The Boss is back in town
* Two-year tour to end here with family party * Five sellout gigs generate 'mini-tourism boom'
US ROCK legend Bruce Springsteen is planning a family party in Ireland to mark the climax of his record-breaking two-year world tour.
The New Jersey rocker plays the first of five sellout Irish concerts tonight in Limerick's Thomond Park, with his 'Wrecking Ball' tour scheduled to finish with two gigs in Kilkenny's Nowlan Park on July 27 and 28.
He also has concerts in Cork's Pairc Ui Chaoimh (July 18) and Belfast's Kings Hall (July 20).
Springsteen and his E Street Band were scheduled to fly into Ireland yesterday and are planning a private celebration to mark the conclusion of the tour, which has seen the band play sellout concerts across the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Europe.
'The Boss' will be joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, and children, Evan, Jess and Sam, next week for the concluding Irish gigs.
Evan often guests with the E Street Band on guitar, while Jess is a champion American show-jumper and tipped to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The band, their family and friends will celebrate with a private party at an undisclosed Irish location.
The singer has developed a close affection for Ireland since he played his first concert here with a famous performance at Slane Castle in June 1985.
Since then, Springsteen has insisted that Ireland is included in every world tour itinerary and described it as his "adopted home".
He recorded a live album in Dublin's old Point Depot in 2007 and dedicated it to the memory of the late promoter Jim Aiken, father of Peter Aiken, who negotiated Springsteen's first Irish concert.
FISH AND CHIPS
The star is also famous for having developed a taste for fish and chips at one of Dublin's oldest restaurants, Burdock's.
Ironically, Springsteen is bypassing Dublin for the first time since 2007 when he only played the Odyssey Arena in Belfast as part of the initial leg of his 'Magic' tour.
The five gigs also represent a 'mini-tourism boom' for Ireland, with thousands of Springsteen fans set to jet into Ireland from across the US, Canada and Europe.
Some fans planned Irish family holidays around the five concert dates.
Hotels in Limerick, Cork and Kilkenny confirmed bumper bookings, and several are offering special 'Boss menus' with dishes named after some of his most famous songs.
The 'Wrecking Ball' tour, launched last year, effectively concludes in Ireland with just a single concert planned for the rest of the year by Springsteen – an appearance at the 'Rock in Rio' festival on September 21.
Springsteen is also playing the first major rock gig by a US star at the Cork GAA headquarters since Oasis in 1996.
The venue also hosted U2 (1987), Michael Jackson (1988) and Prince (1990).
His Limerick gig will be the highest profile concert ever staged at Thomond Park.
Springsteen is close friends with the members of U2, leading to speculation the Dublin group could play a part in his extended Irish visit.
U2 release a long-awaited new album in the autumn.
The 'Wrecking Ball' tour has proved one of the most successful ever mounted by Springsteen, with the prestigious music magazine, 'Billboard', awarding it 'Top Draw' status for the best-attended rock tour by any artist in 2012.