Saturday 18 August 2018

Concert hassles are snow joke for Croker residents

Keith Richards with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood
Keith Richards with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

It's one of those enduring constants of Irish life: residents protesting a concert in Croke Park. This time it's Aiken Promotions and The Rolling Stones in the line of fire, with some - not all - locals arguing that GAA HQ only has the rights to stage three gigs this year, and those slots are already booked.

Richard Chambers reported for Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri, 7am) on a Clonliffe and Croke Park Area Residents' Meeting, in which aggrieved citizens aired concerns. One described these concerts as "hell". He added, "We were here before that monstrosity was built" - a claim which, considering Croke Park has been there since 1908, must be taken with a grain of scepticism.

In fairness, there were valid complaints: one man spoke of "the whole area falling down around us and nobody cares". Another talked about how they can't park on match days. A woman succinctly stated, "I am f**king wrecked - no is no."

We heard the opposite view. One gent said, "We were a laughing stock when Garth Brooks was cancelled." "It brings employment and a great atmosphere to the area," said another.

"I think having concerts in your area is a good thing," one especially philosophical resident added, "and I know that's not a popular thing to say here. In an age when technology has taken over so many aspects of our lives, the idea of people gathering together to listen to live music is very exciting."

This issue, you suspect, will rumble on for years, with no end in sight; a bit like the Stones themselves, in fact. We played out with a snatch of Mick Jagger singing, "You can't always get what you want…"

Another national obsession is the weather, and this week's double-whammy of Storm Emma and The Beast from the East gave us the opportunity to indulge with gusto. In a nice surprise, much of what we heard was upbeat, chipper, determined to crack on and even see the humour in the situation.

I especially liked the doughty old gentleman interviewed by The Pat Kenny Show (Mon-Fri 9am), who snorted, "Snow? Pff. They don't know snow. I remember as a child, in 1948, we had snow until May."

The Documentary on One (Radio 1, Sun 7pm) told the riveting story of 'Michael Gomez: The Irish Mexican'. Former world champion Bernard Dunne explored the life of Michael Armstrong, an Irish boxer who changed his name to Gomez in honour of a Hispanic fighter he admired.

It centred on an infamous incident in 2006, at the National Stadium in Dublin. In the fifth round of his bout with Peter McDonagh, Gomez dropped his guard, exited the ring and announced his retirement. This was the sort of unpredictable, on-the-edge behaviour the Longford native was notorious for.

Bernard described him as "the bad boy - but more than that. He was nasty, wild…unpredictable." In 2014 Bernard travelled to Manchester to reminisce with Gomez about his career and a life less ordinary.

The child of Travellers, he was literally born on the side of a road, after his dad crashed the car bringing Michael's pregnant mother to hospital. He lived in care for a while.

Gomez's fight career was flamboyant, often outrageous, not unsuccessful. His life was wild and, in places, surreal. Dunne did a fine job of capturing the essence of the man, his sport and the culture which formed him.

The documentary ended very poignantly: as soft chimes played in the background, Gomez said wistfully, "I can look back on everything and think, wow - that was me. I lived the dream… It just seems to have gone so fast. But I can look back and say, 'That was me. I was Michael Gomez.'"

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