IRELAND -The young mum is still reeling after the sickening abuse. She said: “I got hundreds of threats . . . It did freak me out.” Back home in Clare yesterday, the 25-year old gave her first interview since returning to Ireland, telling the Irish Sun: “Oh my God, I got threats, I got letters.
“Horrendous stuff online with someone threatening to do something to me. I had hundreds and hundreds of people messaging me saying the most horrible stuff. I got a few sinister threats. They were telling me ‘you have to be careful’, ‘watch where you go’, ‘you never know where I’ll be’, ‘be careful who you’re with’. That kind of stuff. That was at the beginning but it got worse and more and more intense. It did freak me out. All they had to do was address the letters to ‘Eurovision representative, Scarriff, Co Clare’ and it landed at my nana’s house. I’d open them and read the first couple of lines which would be ‘you are a disgrace’, ‘you are a silly little girl who doesn’t know anything about anything’. And they’d tell me I was stupid. I didn’t read the rest.”
The online threats and abuse had such an impact on Sarah she was forced to go offline in the days leading up to singing for Ireland in the second semi-final at Eurovision.
She said: “In the end I couldn’t look at anything online. I had to stop using Twitter. I switched it on for two seconds then back off. I’m talking about it now because you asked but I don’t want people reading this thinking I’m looking for sympathy now. Through this whole thing I have kept my head high and stayed positive and that’s what I will continue to do. There is still s*** being thrown at me online but I’m not going to look at it. If I go on Twitter I will find ridiculous comments even though I changed my profile pic. I post something on my Facebook and within ten minutes I have to delete ten comments. I’m still getting horrible messages but one of my best friends is on my Facebook and Twitter and she goes on and deletes them before I can see them and she has been doing that through the whole process. She also redirects some of the emails that come in for me so I don’t have to see it.”
Although she competed in The Voice Of Ireland in 2015, where she finished in third-place, Sarah from Scarriff, Co Clare, had to overcome post-natal depression as a single mum before she could relaunch her singing career. By coincidence Sarah was 22 when she gave birth to her daughter Mia, two and a half years ago.
Sarah said: “I went through post-natal depression about three months after my daughter was born which was one of the lowest points of my life. When she was first born my baby was my priority. There was nothing else. Then I realised I was isolating myself, I didn’t want to go anywhere. I got to feeling a ferocious amount of anxiety and depression. But going through that post-natal depression taught me an awful lot about myself. I got through it and it made me stronger. I wasn’t even thinking about music back then, I was taking a step back. At the start of the year I decided this year was going to my year. About a week later I got a call from RTE about Eurovision. I really feel that what is meant for you won’t pass you by.”
However entering Eurovision 2019 representing Ireland in Israel was always going to be controversial.
She said: “I was aware but I didn’t know how much of a backlash there would be. I was aware Eurovision brings people together. I was happy to represent my country. It was such an honour and something I had been working towards the last few years. I was proud to be the Irish entry for 2019, it was something I have always wanted to do. It was a song contest, I was asked to sing a song. It’s a song competition which was started after World War II with the aim of bringing people together.”
Sarah is full of praise for RTE’s Eurovision Head of Delegation Michael Kiely and his team for the care and support they showed her. In the days coming up to the contest, she also had to deal with pain from her wisdom teeth. She recalls: “I was so run down, my throat was ruined but I was lucky that the worst came the week before the contest. I had time to get treatment and get it together.” But she came alive on the night of the second semi-final when she pulled out all the stops to deliver Ireland’s entry 22. However it wasn’t to be Ireland’s night, as we failed to qualify for the Grand Final.
Sarah said: “I was very emotional because I realised it was the end of my Eurovision journey, and I had just grown so close to everyone. Eurovision TV asked me for an interview and I was confused as to why they wanted me. They said it was because all the contestants said I was the artist they would most miss when they left Eurovision. I could have cried when I heard that. Tamara who represented North Macedonia gifted me a week stay in a hotel in her country. I was also in England last week and met up with the UK’s Eurovision entry Michael Rice, and he brought me to a party in BBC Radio One. And Kathryn, the Greek entry, also wants to meet me again.”
Asked if she would represent Ireland again, Sarah said: “I’d jump at the chance but I don’t think I would get the opportunity seeing as though we didn’t qualify. All the same it was a fantastic experience.”
Meanwhile, former Irish Eurovision winner Dana was full of praise for Sarah this week, saying her voice and look was so fantastic that she didn’t need the backing dancers with her in Tel Aviv.
Sarah said: “When I told my Mam Dana had said nice things about me she was thrilled.”
And asked if the lack of votes from abroad may have been Irish people overseas involved in an anti-Israeli boycott, Sarah said: “Maybe but it’s out of our control. It is what it is. We did our best and I am really proud of the whole Irish delegation. I feel like I did my best.”