Wednesday 24 October 2018

Sunshine brightens festival for happy campers

Amy Winehouse received a rapturous reception when she arrived onstage at the Oxegen pop festival yesterday in Punchestown

Fiach Kelly

AND on the third day, there was sunshine. It was the second miracle of Oxegen -- the first came just before 7pm on Saturday when Amy Winehouse took to the main stage.

The 80,000-strong crowd threw away the raincoats and wellies yesterday for the three-day festival's last blast.

Instead, the fashion of the day was pale Irish skin and knobbly knees as punters whipped off their tops, donned shorts and bared their bits to the glorious sunshine.

Most of them were eager to escape tents that quickly turned as hot as glasshouses in the sun. Unfortunately for some, they had no liquids left to quench their thirst in the midday heat.

David Gavin, who was marking his 21st at the festival yesterday, and Ali Carey, both from Kildare, were left without any drink yesterday morning -- even though they brought 48 cans, 110 cigarettes, three litres of vodka and one litre of wine.

Despite their lack of refreshments, they were particularly looking forward to Rage Against the Machine, who closed the festival last night.

"There's a deadly atmosphere. Really, really good," said Ali, who celebrates her 19th birthday today. "No one has had any rows; everyone is just having a laugh. It's better organised than last year.

"I went to see Mundy, I went to see Kings of Leon. I probably was at more -- but I was really hammered and don't remember anything."

The pair were joined on their inflatable couch by an unknown and worse-for-wear "randomer", who invited himself over. It later transpired that this Ollie Lamb had thoroughly enjoyed Amy Winehouse.

The small comforts were especially appreciated yesterday as festival goers trudged through the last few hours.

"The comfy crapper, that's a quality idea," said Ronan Murray from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

"€2.50 for a comfortable poo. Or seven poos for €13. You can't beat that. But it's not even porcelain. It's mostly wood and plastic. Great idea though."

Mr Murray said the weekend had taken its toll and claimed he drifted off during The Prodigy -- unlikely candidates for a lullaby -- on Saturday night.

"I fell asleep standing. I was wrecked," he added "It's very chilled out though. We're going to see the Kaiser Chiefs; we haven't seen them in a while. I'm going to lep around like a buck eejit!"

For some fans, the weekend's line-up was so good it was worth travelling across the Atlantic Ocean for.

Jose Luis Orona and Diego Palma from Mexico travelled to Ireland for the festival, the first step on a tour around Europe.

"It's been a great weekend," said Diego. "A lot of drinking, male nudity, puking -- a great atmosphere. People are very friendly in Ireland. We've been just hanging around. We came to see Rage Against The Machine. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"I was at Glastonbury too. That has a better line up. They're all A list there. But in terms of atmosphere, this is better."

Gardai said yesterday evening that arrests were significantly down on 2007. Around 40 were for drugs offences, two for alleged sexual assaults and a handful for drink driving, public order offences and criminal damage.

And love blossomed yesterday at Punchestown, with a couple getting engaged on stage before the Republic of Loose.

Belfast girl Michaela Murphy (23) popped the question to her boyfriend Paddy McBride (27) after arriving on stage on a motorbike. Thankfully Paddy saved everyone's blushes and said 'Yes'.

The engagement saw Michaela present Paddy with a bass guitar and a plectrum instead of a wedding ring.

It was arranged by Franc of 'Weddings by Franc' from BBC television. Franc is now branching out into unknown territory -- engagements -- and Michaela and Paul will be included in his new BBC series.

But around the arena, the weekend was clearly taking its toll, with some fans passing out on various spots of grass and gravel -- like a canaries in a mine -- as the end neared.

Others got separated from their friends, and a festival wouldn't be a festival without the few lost souls wandering around campsites and arenas shouting, "Where are you?" into their phones.

Lost soul of the weekend goes to an unfortunate Dub who got separated from his mates at Groove Armada on Friday night.

"Where are yis? I can't find you!" he roared into his mobile. "Put up your hand and I'll see you."

Unfortunately, at that exact moment, Groove Armada launched into crowd favourite "Superstlyin". Cue the raising of around 10,000 hands.

"Ah jaysis," the Dub sighed before hanging up the call and walking off into the night.

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