born in March 1943
died on 9/4/2021
Shay Healy (born 1943) is an Irish songwriter, broadcaster and journalist. He is best known for his role as host of Nighthawks, a RTÉ Television chat show of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and for composing "What's Another Year", Ireland's winning entry in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest.
Shay Healy was raised along with his five siblings in Sandymount in Dublin. His father, Seamus, was a civil servant and part-time stage actor who performed at the Abbey and Olympia theatres. His mother, Máirín Ní Shúilleabháin, was a singer of Irish traditional songs. She also wrote plays and stories and encouraged young Shay's early talent for writing. This led to his first appearance at the age of fifteen on the Irish national radio station, Radió Éireann, reading a self-penned article.
Healy has had a varied career to date, never focusing too intently on any one of his various professional interests. Of his tendency to diversify he has commented: "I know it infuriates some people when you don't pigeonhole yourself, but I don't take on anything that won't stand up to public scrutiny."
Healy first received attention as a performer of his own "songs of social significance" during the 1960s. Later he wrote comedy songs for Billy Connolly. Healy achieved his greatest success as a songwriter with "What's Another Year", which won the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest. Over the course of the next fifteen years, the song earned him a total of £250,000. In 1983 his song, "Edge Of The Universe", sung by Linda Martin, was the overall winner of the Castlebar Song Contest. Under the name of Crack, he and his friend Dave Pennefather released a parody song called 'Silly Fellow', which was about Paul McCartney's arrest and jail experience in Japan.
In 1977, Healy branched into musical theatre with the script, co-written with Niall Toibin, for a stage production entitled The King. This was a show based on the life and music of Elvis Presley and was premiered at the Cork Opera House two months after the singer's death. However, Healy's rock opera, The Knowledge, failed to receive commercial backing and was premiered in Dundalk by an amateur group in January 1989.
Healy was more successful with his musical, The Wiremen, which received its premiere on 4 May 2005 at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre in a production by John McColgan and Moya Doherty that ran for six weeks. The Wiremen tells the story of the introduction of electricity into County Mayo during the 1950s. In March 2010 the show was revived in an amateur production by the Birr Stage Guild.
Healy joined RTÉ Television in 1963 as a trainee cameraman. Within five years he had moved to the other side of the lens with appearances on programmes such as Twenty Minutes With..., Ballad Sheet and Hoot'nany.
Between 1988 and 1992 Healy hosted Nighthawks, a late-night satirical chat show broadcast on RTÉ Two, which he later described as "the best four years of my working life". In January 1992, the show became embroiled in political controversy as a result of Healy's interview with former Fianna Fáil Justice Minister Seán Doherty. During the interview, Doherty revealed that some members of the cabinet with whom he served in 1982 had been aware of his order to illegally tap the phones of a number of Irish journalists. The revelation led to the resignation of Taoiseach Charles Haughey a few weeks later.
In January 1995, RTÉ terminated Healy's contract. One of his last shows for the station was Where Are They Now? in which he interviewed former celebrities whose fame had largely faded. Healy then set up his own production company which made a series of television documentaries. His 1995 TV documentary on Irish musician, Phil Lynott, The Rocker, was broadcast on RTÉ Two and BBC Two, and later released as a DVD. In 1998, Healy made two half-hour documentaries for the RTÉ One television series, Against The Odds. The series focused on individuals who had overcome adversity in their lives. Healy's two films featured an actor, Chris Burke, who was born with dwarfism, and a singer, Ronan Tynan, whose legs were amputated when he was twenty.
Healy has won two Jacob's Awards. He received the first in 1984 for Strawberry Fields Forever, a radio documentary series on the 1960s which he presented. His second award came in 1989 for his television work.
In 2007, Healy joined the judging panel on TG4's talent show, Glór Tíre.
In the early 1960s, Healy became Folk Correspondent for Spotlight, an Irish pop music weekly, and he continued to write for the magazine until its demise in the mid-1970s. He currently writes a weekly column for the Irish Daily Mail.
The Stunt is the title of Healy's debut novel, published in 1992. It deals with the Irish rock scene and was described by one reviewer as "a more truthful... representation (of) the Irish music scene than The Commitments". His second novel, Green Card Blues, is set among the illegal Irish immigrant community in New York City.
In 2005 On The Road, Healy's memoir of his life in showbusiness, was published.
In 2004, Healy was diagnosed with the degenerative disorder, Parkinson's disease.
- The Stunt, (O'Brien Press, 1992, ISBN 978-0-86278-322-8 )
- Green Card Blues, (O'Brien Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0-86278-386-0)
- Beastly Jokes, (O'Brien Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-86278-923-7)
- More Beastly Jokes, (O'Brien Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-86278-924-4)
- On The Road, (O'Brien Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-86278-949-7)
- 1.0 1.1 The Irish Times, "Shay Healy", 26 July 1980
- On The Road, p. 21
- 3.0 3.1 The Irish Times, "Success in a small way", 7 March 1998
- The Irish Times, "Dublin Folk and Ballad Concert", 10 October 1966
- 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Irish Times, "THE MULTI-MEDIA ARTIST: Shay Healy", 28 December 1995
- The Irish Times, "'The King' at the Cork Opera House", 18 October 1977
- The Irish Times, "Broadway? No, try Dundalk", 14 January 1989
- The Irish Times, "Singing power to the people", 7 May 2005
- Offaly Express, March 18, 2010
- The Irish Times, "Countdowns, cameras and orgies", 21 December 1991
- On The Road, p. 172
- The Irish Times, "Obscure hints on 'Nighthawks' led to Haughey's darkest hour", 25 January 1992
- Irish Examiner, "Telephone bugs that toppled a Taoiseach", 10 May 2001
- The Irish Times, "RTE makes home-produced television drama 'a priority'", 9 August 1994
- On The Road, pp. 234
- The Irish Times, "Live rock", 6 March 1993
- On The Road, p. 32
- Sunday Independent, "What's another decade?", 21 December 2003
- Sunday Independent, "Presenting with Parkinson's", 18 December 2005
|Eurovision Song Contest winning songwriters|
|1950s||Géo Voumard / Émile Gardaz · Guus Jansen / Willy van Hemert · Hubert Giraud / Pierre Delanoë · Dick Schallies / Willy van Hemert|
|1960s||André Popp / Pierre Cour · Jacques Datin / Maurice Vidalin · Claude-Henri Vic / Roland Valande · Otto Francker / Sejr Volmer-Sørensen · Nicola Salerno / Mario Panzeri · Serge Gainsbourg · Udo Jürgens / Udo Jürgens, Thomas Hörbiger · Bill Martin, Phil Coulter · Manuel de la Calva, Ramón Arcusa · David Hartsema / Lenny Kuhr · Alan Moorhouse / Peter Warne · Maria José de Cerato / Aniano Alcalde|
|1970s||Derry Lindsay, Jackie Smith · Jean-Pierre Bourtayre / Yves Dessca · Mario Panas, Klaus Munro / Yves Dessca, Klaus Munro · Claude Morgan / Vline Buggy · Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Stig Anderson · Dick Bakker / Will Luikinga, Eddy Ouwens · Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden, Martin Lee · Jean-Paul Cara / Joe Gracy · Nurit Hirsh / Ehud Manor · Kobi Oshrat / Shimrit Orr|
|1980s||Shay Healy · Andy Hill, John Danter · Ralph Siegel / Bernd Meinunger · Jean-Pierre Millers / Alain Garcia · Torgny Söderberg / Britt Lindeborg · Rolf Løvland · Jean Paul Furnémon, Angelo Crisci · Seán Sherrard · Nella Martinetti, Atilla ereftu · Rajko Dujmi / Stevo Cviki|
|1990s||Toto Cutugno · Stephan Berg · Seán Sherrard · Jimmy Walsh · Brendan Graham · Rolf Løvland / Petter Skavland · Brendan Graham · Kimberley Rew · Svika Pick / Yoav Ginai · Lars Diedricson / Marcos Ubeda|
|2000s||Jørgen Olsen · Ivar Must / Maian-Anna Kärmas · Marija Naumova / Marija Naumova, Marats Samauskis · Demir Demirkan, Sertab Erener / Demir Demirkan · Ruslana Lyzhychko / Ruslana Lyzhychko, Alexandr Ksenofontov · Christos Dantis / Christos Dantis, Natalia Germanou · Tomi Putaansuu · Vladimir Grai / Saa Miloevi Mare · Dima Bilan, Jim Beanz · Alexander Rybak|
|2010s||Julie Frost / John Gordon|