Cork is buzzing for Ed Sheeran concerts - they're even baking cupcakes in his honour
ED Sheeran's sell-out nine concert Irish tour is " a dream come true" for the singer-songwriter who came up with the idea himself of a nationwide series of gigs in honour of his Irish roots.
The revelation came as promoter Peter Aiken confirmed that Ed Sheeran will make Irish music history by playing nine sell-out concerts to 405,000 fans over the next three weeks - a concert series estimated to be worth a staggering €200 million in terms of its total economic spin-off to Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast.
Even Mother Nature has smiled on the ginger-haired singer with a forecast of bright sunshine and warm temperatures for his trio of Cork concerts.
Mr Aiken admitted it was an astonishing achievement for a young singer who he first saw playing to a small crowd in Vicar Street in Dublin in November 2011.
"He came up with the idea himself that he would like to tour Ireland," Mr Aiken said.
The English-born singer has strong affection for Wexford, where his grandparents live, and especially for Galway.
He will perform the first concert of his Irish tour - and the first-ever concert at the €70m revamped Pairc Uí Chaoímh in Cork - on Friday evening.
"When I saw him in The Point (now 3Arena), I knew that this guy was the real deal," Mr Aiken said.
"He is the biggest rock star there is in the world at the moment - he is an amazing young man."
Gardaí stressed that they are treating the record concert series as "a family-friendly series of events."
Supt John Quilter said a major security operation will be in place for the biggest music event in Cork's history.
"Our aim is that people should attend the concerts safely, enjoy themselves and then leave safely."
Supt Quilter urged people to follow strict security protocols which include no parking near Pairc Ui Chaoimh, no bags being brought to the stadium, strict ticket identification requirements and allowing plenty of time to reach the venue.
Given the young age profile of those attending, the concert promotors have even provided for special 'child wrist bands' to allow lost youngsters to be reunited with their parents either via seat number or mobile phone.
Because of the concert venue being located beside the River Lee, special river patrols by Mallow Search and Rescue will be provided for all three gigs.
Concert goers are urged to either walk to the venue from Cork city centre or to use special shuttle buses provided by Bus Éireann.
More than 200 staff have been engaged in building the stage and preparing the stadium for the concerts with a total of 1,500 security, catering and technical personnel on duty for each of the three Pairc Ui Chaoimh gigs.
"It is a wonderful occasion for Cork and for Pairc Ui Chaoimh - I believe that these concerts will firmly put Cork on the map for acts visiting Ireland in the future," Mr Aiken said.
Cork Business Association (CBA) have hailed the three concerts - on May 4,5 and 6 - as an economic God-send for Ireland's second city.
An estimated 150,000 fans will flock to Cork for the opening gigs of the star's Irish and UK tour.
Thousands of Ed Sheeran fans are expected to flock to Ireland from all over Europe and North America.
Virtually all hotels and guesthouses in the city centre are booked out - and restaurants confirmed reservations have been running at record levels.
Pubs and nightclubs around Cork have contracted extra staff given the predicted influx of music fans.
"It is exactly what the city needs," CBA official Lawrence Owens said.
Traders are already getting in on the act in a bid to recreate the festival atmosphere generated by Kilkenny when it staged back-to-back Bruce Springsteen concerts in 2013.
Julie Middleton of the family-run Sticky Fingers doughnut shop on Emmet Place revealed they have created their own ginger-tinged range in honour of Ed Sheeran's upcoming concerts.
"We are only around the corner from Cork Opera House and we did some red doughnuts in honour of their staging of 'Annie'. They were a great hit so we thought it would only be right to also cook up some special doughnuts in honour of Ed," she said.
"Our chef worked really hard to get the look just right."
Ed Sheeran will play three concerts in Cork over the May Bank Holiday weekend with one gig in Belfast (May 9), two gigs in Galway (May 12 and 13), three in Dublin's Phoenix Park (May 16, 18 and 19).
The ability of the 27 year old to virtually sell out nine Irish venues in the space of three weeks - playing to 405,000 fans - is unparalleled in Irish music history.
Ed Sheeran will be supported by trad band, Beoga, as well Anne Marie and Jamie Lawson.
The trio will join him for both the Irish and UK legs of his tour.