Eurovision songwriter and broadcaster Shay Healy has died at the age of 78.
Shay wrote the song ‘What’s another year’ which was sung by Johnny Logan and won the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. The song reached number 1 in a number of countries including Ireland, The UK, Belgium and Sweden. Over the course of the next fifteen years, the song reportedly earned Shay a total of £250,000.
Shay originally worked at Irish Broadcaster RTÉ as a trainee cameraman, progressing to become a TV presenter, presenting the late night show ‘Nighthawks’. Shay later founded his own production company.
Shay was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004 but continued working and performing.
Speaking this morning, Johnny Logan said his death was “very hard to take”.
Johnny told RTÉ Radio:
Shay was very easy to like and very easy to love. My thoughts and prayers are with his sons. I am sure they are heartbroken.”
He recalled how Shay approached him during the 1979 Castlebar Song Contest.
“He told me that he had a song, and wanted me to perform it [if chosen to represent Ireland] at the Eurovision. That is how the story of What’s Another Year began.”
Shay told Johnny that the song was about his father trying to get over the death of his mother.
“That was very useful to know when it came to performing it,” Logan said.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin described Shay Healy as “a gifted songwriter and a national treasure”.
“His beautiful song writing inspired a generation of Irish artists to take their place on the world stage.
“His time as a broadcaster brought Shay into our homes where the Irish public fell in love with the man and with his irreverent and vital spirit.
“His battle with Parkinson’s disease in his later years was so difficult but also a source of great inspiration for many dealing with the same struggles. I wish to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Shay at this very difficult time.”
You can see Johnny singing his winning song ‘What’s another year’ below.
Our thoughts are with Shay’s family friends and colleagues at this difficult time.