News Comment

Thursday 2 October 2014

Historic moment in Irish entertainment – why couldn't residents just celebrate it?

Shay Healy

Published 04/07/2014 | 02:30

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Garth Brooks is due to play in Dublin in July
Garth Brooks

SO there were 363 submissions made to Dublin City Council to block the five Garth Brooks concerts in Croke Park. God forbid that I'd ever have to depend on that flying wedge of righteousness for anything useful. This comes from the kind of mindset which looks for a thorn when someone hands them a rose.

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Why couldn't objectors just relax into the five-day bonanza and create memories for themselves that would endure, as much as memories of the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 did for my generation. It's an irrefutably historic moment in the Irish entertainment business, and with the eyes of the world focused on us, on the back of the unprecedented sale of more than 400,000 tickets, they turned their backs against the mood of the day and retreated behind the typical 'not in my back yard' mentality.

Why didn't you ask me to come over? I'd have told you how to organise street parties, or back-garden gatherings, with the promoters contributing a sizeable amount of food and beverages to the occasion. Had the residents' association checked it out, they would have discovered that when a big act plays the Aviva Stadium, the residents in the area, particularly those along Bath Avenue and the side streets, which are in the shadows of the stadium, bring their chairs out on to the street and listen to the free music with joy in their hearts.

I heard someone on Joe Duffy saying the locals get hassled by the gardai. All the local residents could have been supplied with photo IDs for getting in and out of their houses, without hassle. And they could have had visitor IDs printed, in case any of the residents wanted to invite the "rellies" over to enjoy the craic. I'd safely bet that neither any member of the residents' association, nor Dublin City Council, bothered to read up on Garth Brooks, or stopped to wonder how one man could sell more than 400,000 tickets, especially since he hasn't been here in 20 years.

Garth Brooks is like Riverdance, a phenomenon. It's hard to pinpoint the emotion that carries through a phenomenon. Just as Riverdance stirred the soul, regardless of religion, colour or creed, so too did Garth Brooks stir the soul of country music and consequently opened the door to country pop in Nashville.

He contributed hugely to the changing texture of country music and not always with the approval of the old-timers. But he must be doing something right because he is the third biggest record seller of all time, behind only The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Garth, who is 52 and married to singer Trisha Yearwood, first came to Ireland in 1994. He sold out 12 consecutive nights at The Point Depot and it was notable that the audience knew all the words to all the songs and, to his amazement and amusement, insisted on singing along. His affection for Ireland continued and in 1997, he did three shows at Croke Park, and on one of his DVDs, he recounted how much he had enjoyed the gig .

"Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland, an outdoor stadium ... these people were so into the show that they did this clapping thing, and this pointing thing ... and it was all kind of orchestrated by themselves ... and so they got this clapping going with this hey ... and I gotta tell you it's my favourite part of any footage that I see of us live ... the people were so perfect in the crowd. To get tens of thousands of people to do that all together is impossible. Well, I gotta tell you when it comes to Ireland, nothing is impossible."

Sadly Garth is wrong this time, all because some people can't let go and see the bigger picture, for once.

There is a stubborn deafness too, to the argument that we're turning our backs on millions of euro in revenue and a dug-in, entrenched minority are starting to sound like they are enjoying their roles as the spoilers. They're queueing up to be interviewed on how they put manners on Garth Brooks and his promoters.

A councillor I heard on Joe Duffy said that ultimately the Dublin City Manager, Owen Keegan, made the final decision. At one time, Keegan was Director of Traffic for several years, before moving to Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown. He has a reputation for being a tough decision-maker and this time, for the good of the city and our international reputation, I think the City Manager may have got it wrong.

Irish Independent

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