‘Anything is possible if you want it enough...'

Maria with her husband and seven children. Music runs in the family, she says

Maria Doyle Cuche sang in the Eurovision Song Contest, toured the US and raised seven children in France – all despite being blind. Her autobiography On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur [You can only see clearly with the heart] is out... she tells Claire McQue her remarkable story.

Maria Doyle Cuche’s voice bursts through the phone from her home in rural France.

She is singing You Raise Me Up in flawless, clear tones as her way of explaining who Brendan Graham is.

Graham, one of Ireland’s most prolific songwriters, wrote Wait until the Weekend Comes. In 1985 the teenage Maria (singing as Maria Christian) opened the Eurovision Song Contest by singing that song.

Maria, now 53, is a force of nature.

Born into poverty in the Irish border town of Dundalk in 1965, she became blind at the age of nine through a rare genetic illness but went on to tour America at the age of 13 and then win the hearts of the public in the Eurovision Song Contest.

A few years later she married a Frenchman she had met just six weeks earlier and then moved to Chanteheux in Lorraine, north-east France, where they have raised seven children.

She remembers her life vividly, recounting details as if she were watching a film in her head.

“I knew I was born to sing,” she says.

She remembers winning a local song contest aged five, singing Frankie Avalon’s Why. “I’ll never let you go, I think you’re awfully sweet” were lyrics her mother sang to her as a child ...

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