American country legend has friends in cold places
WHEN all you've got are 'Unanswered Prayers' for pre-booked Garth Brooks tickets you have no choice but to brave wet and icy 56-hour concert queues.
An army of Garth Brooks's Irish fans grabbed flasks, coats, sleeping bags and iPods to camp outside Ticketmaster and other outlets nationwide to guarantee their place at one of the US country star's July 25/26 concerts in Croke Park.
In a reflection of modern Ireland's musical tastes, Ticketmaster admitted queues were significantly bigger and earlier in regional cities and towns compared with Dublin.
Ticketmaster's Cork staff confirmed that the Garth Brooks queues are the second longest and earliest they have ever encountered.
"Only the queues for One Direction were longer – those queues went down the street for over 400 metres. But there is absolutely huge interest in Garth Brooks and right across all ages from the early 20s to 70s. I reckon only a U2 gig would generate greater interest than this," one official said.
In Louth, hardcore fans Trish Conroy and Nicola Elder joined the queue outside the News & Deli outlet in Dundalk at 1am on Tuesday – a marathon 56- hour ticket wait.
"We brought sleeping bags, chairs, warm clothes, hot water bottles and loads of food. But (store manager) Sonja has looked after us really well," Trish said.
"We're huge fans, really hard core so there is no way we were going to miss Croke Park."
In Cork, fans helped turn the ticket wait into a trip down memory lane as they swapped stories about their favourite concerts and songs before today's 9am sale.
Ciara Murray and her friend Jennifer Collins joined the queue outside Cork's Merchant Quay Shopping Centre at 11pm on Tuesday night to ensure they'd be guaranteed tickets.
"We knew there would be huge interest in the concert and we were afraid they would sell out straight away," Ciara told the Irish Independent.
Husband and wife, Robert and Margaret Spillane, from Blarney, joined the queue at 7am yesterday when they realised the huge interest in the gigs.
"My wife is a really big fan but none of the two of us have seen him perform live."
Robert admitted he wasn't looking forward to the overnight camp. "We have blankets, heavy coats, good chairs, extra socks, hot drinks and even portable DVD players but I suspect we will still be frozen by 9am tomorrow," he smiled.
In Cavan, friends Kelly Beard and Stephanie Cauley started queuing outside the MultiSound outlet at 6pm on Tuesday night – and owner Noel Tierney jokingly asked if they'd be willing to paint his store while they waited.
"He has been great to us. He gave us an umbrella and brings us out cups of tea to warm us up. We've never seen Garth Brooks and the tickets are for us and our partners," Kelly said.
Ralph Riegel and Majella O'Sullivan
Meanwhile, excited fans have been tweeting in the run up to tickets going on sale.