With Ryan O'Shaughnessy turning Irish people into instant Eurovision diehards ahead of this year's final, John Byrne recalls six previous times Ireland suddenly went mental...

God loves a winner. But there's nothing Irish people like better than a bandwagon to jump aboard. Last Tuesday night, The Eurovision Song Contest became our latest excuse for getting wrapped up in a tricolour.

With Ryan O'Shaughnessy becoming the first Irish contestant to survive the semi-finals since 2013, it means Saturday's final is suddenly The Most Important Thing Ever. Cue Portuguese-themed nights and Algarve-inspired sessions as the Eurovision decider comes live from Lisbon.

It ain't the first time and won't be the last that we'll be so proud to be Irish (if we win). Here are some of the occasions in the past that drew Irish people together and turned the Emerald Isle into a nation-wide party zone.

1. Dana triumphs at the Eurovision (1970)

Back in 1970, Ireland was still in the 1950s. Everyone was either broke or broken, emigration was our national sport, and an international victory in anything by anyone from the Emerald Isle was frankly unthinkable.

Then a gap-toothed teenager from Derry charmed Europe with a winsome smile, an innocent tune and a stool  - believe it or not, chairs had yet to arrive in Ireland back then - to give us our first-ever Eurovision winner.

A nation partied as All Kinds of Everything became a new national anthem. We even learned to smile a little.

Before Dana, everything was in black and white. This was our Dorothy landing in Oz moment.

Just look at these videos as Ireland goes from monochrome to colour!

Mental rating: 6

2. Stephen Roche storms the Tour de France (1987)

The only good thing about the 1970s was that we hadn't yet lived through the 1980s. Life in Ireland then was like a fairytale: grim.

But that all changed and a nation put the 'oke' in spoke when Dublin cyclist Stephen Roche got on his bike and achieved the seemingly impossible by winning The Tour de France while eating Galtee cheese.

Then Taoiseach Charles Haughey famously appeared on the winner's podium in Paris to claim Roche's victory for Ireland (and himself). Charles? The gall!

This was also the year every Irish boy under the age of 16 got a brand new bicycle for Christmas and a first generation of lycra lovers was born. Ireland would never be the same again.

Mental Rating: 8

3. Italia 90

Some Irish people discovered football when Ray Houghton scored the winner against England at Euro 88 - but the Beautiful Game simply swept a nation off its feet two years later during the 1990 World Cup.

In its first ever finals, the Republic marched to the quarter-finals without actually winning a game, and went out to host nation Italy - but only after a penalty shoot out in the last 16 against against Romania saw the country in complete lockdown. Or just locked.

Then Taoiseach Charles Haughey matched his Tour de France win four years earlier with a triumphant march around the Stadio Olimpico running track after Schillaci struck the killer blow in Rome.

Et tu, Charlie. Ole!

Mental Rating: 10

4. Riverdance (1994)

Here was the moment Ireland started believing in itself. It was a huge collective error of judgment that we've been desperately seeking to emulate ever since. After all, the party was amazing.

Once those jaw dropping seven minutes or so of Riverdance were up at the Eurovision interval, so was the entire nation. After a generation of embarrassment about Irish dancing, suddenly it was cool. Hell, we were cool!

Even Michael Flatley got away with a haircut that was a hybrid mullet and Johnny Cash quiff.

Before we knew it, everyone in Ireland owned a region of Spain, had a different Ferrari for each day of the week, and boasted of a mortgage the size of Australia.

And it's all thanks to Bill Whelan.

Mental Rating: 11. No, 12. No, 20. Ah sure, make it an even 50.

5. Beating Pakistan in 'the cricket' (2007)

Back in the mid-18th Century, cricket was the most popular sport in Ireland. 150 years later it staged a remarkable comeback when Ireland qualified for the Cricket World Cup for the first time in 2007..

On St Patrick's Day, Ireland played Pakistan, rated number four in the world. Despite being complete outsiders, Ireland won by three wickets in what's regarded as one of the sport's greatest upsets.

An entire nation (almost) discovered what silly mid on means, and you couldn't get a Cricket Ireland jersey for love, money - or anything else, really. Suddenly, cricket was wicket, sorry, wicked.

Ironically, this weekend sees Ireland play their first-ever Test cricket match, and it's against Pakistan.

Mental Rating: 6 (See what I did there?)

6. The O'Donovan brothers win 'the craic' at the Olympics (2016)

If there's one thing the Irish love, it's a good row. Rowing was another matter entirely, until the O'Donovan brothers came along and won the Charm Olympics.

Paul and Gary O'Donovan nearly won the real Olympics too, by finishing second in the 2016 Rio Games in the lightweight double sculls. It was a first for Ireland, and the world fell in love with two untainted lads from Skibbereen ("de beck ersh a' nowhere") who wouldn't look out of place on Young Offenders, Hardy Bucks, or even a John Hinde postcard.

And while the rest of the planet thought: 'Crazy Irish guys!' the rest of us just got on with having the craic. You'll never beat the Irish at that.

Mental Rating: 7

Six ways to tell that you're a bona fide bandwagon jumper

1: Up until days - hours, even - before Ireland won/qualified, you had zero interest in that competition

2: You're not quite sure how it all works but 'Yay! Ireland!'

3: You think you might have heard of Ireland's representative before, and may even be a distant relative

4: Your overriding thought is: 'Ireland can win, right?'

5: You'd think nothing of wearing a GAA jersey at a rugby game

6: Something (okay, anything) makes you so proud to be Irish that it's essential you spend all day in the pub

John Byrne

You can watch the Eurovision Song Contest on RTÉ One, Saturday May 12 at 8.00pm. Or tune in to RTÉ 2FM for live commentary. 

Click here for more Eurovision news