Monday 23 April 2018

'I can't leave my home some days' - residents living near Croke Park say 'it wasn't always like this'

Residents are faced with the possibility of a fourth concert at Croke Park this year

Residents received an email on Thursday saying an application had been made for a fourth concert at Croke Park
Residents received an email on Thursday saying an application had been made for a fourth concert at Croke Park

Amy Molloy and Donal Corkery

People living in the shadow of GAA headquarters are faced with a regular roster of events and have garnered much media attention for their objections in the past, but what is it really like for those living next to Croke Park?

"Sometimes I can't leave my home," an 84-year-old woman who lives alone tells Independent.ie.

She has been living on Jones' Road for 40 years, describing the last five as a lot less enjoyable.

"If you live here, every day there is something on. It might not be a concert, it might not be a match, but you have tour buses coming in and out all the time. You get up in the morning and there is a car blocking you in, you can't get out.

"It wasn't always like this. You didn't have disruption all the time. That's the problem, it's constant now. I don't mind the matches as that's what I signed up for when I moved here, but I'm old, it's not easy. When there are concerts, they spend five days setting up and you have sound checks too."

For Joan Phelan, the hardest part is not being able to have friends travel to visit her during the matches and concerts.

"We have the matches all the time and we have to put up with that. But the main way it impacts me is you can't have your friends come in and out with a car," she says.

"Three [concerts] was the original agreement. They got so smart they wanted to have five nights with Garth Brooks."

Others don't mind about the concerts as much but feel Croke Park could be a lot more "generous" with tickets.

"I work in a pub so it's good for business, but I wouldn't mind if Croke Park looked after the residents [in terms of tickets]. My wife was born in the flats and only once in 30-odd years did we get a ticket off them," says Paul Smith, who also lives on Jones' Road.

His wife Lorraine enjoys the atmosphere and "the craic" on the match days, but says if she was offered a house elsewhere "she'd be gone in a heartbeat."

"Sometimes it's too much, my health hasn't been great recently and last year it was hard when you're lying in bed and there's this constant banging noise hopping off the walls. I know they don't be on that often but it can be a nuisance."

Barbara Wilson has been living on Clonliffe Road most of her life and while she laments the traffic chaos, she "has no problem whatsoever" with the possibility of a fourth concert.

"I much prefer the concerts to the matches as you can hear the music. I love the whole atmosphere, the whole feel of it. There is traffic restrictions but Croke Park have improved a lot. They send texts to the residents and they tell you what time they'll finish and tidy up afterwards. The only annoying thing is you can't get up and down the road."

Residents received an email on Thursday advising that an application had been made to Dublin City Council for a fourth concert to be held on May 17.

Michael Bublé will perform on July 7, and Taylor Swift on June 15 and 16.

Croke Park has planning permission to host three special events every year but event promoters are entitled to apply for extra event licences.

Peter McKenna, stadium director of Croke Park said: "This proposed date for the possible concert in May would be the only event or match to be scheduled in Croke Park to take place in May and would bring the number of events scheduled in the stadium to 30 for this calendar year.

"Last year there were 27 GAA fixtures and only 2 concerts and there was a total of 31 stadium events in 2016."

In response to questions about residents' views on the ticketing system and the number of events held at Croke Park in recent years, a spokeswoman told Independent.ie: "The stadium’s community ticket scheme has been greatly developed over the last number of years based on the feedback we’ve received from local residents themselves and the majority of feedback received by the stadium in relation to our ticket scheme is very positive

"Draws are also conducted for the opportunity to purchase tickets for the All Ireland Football and Hurling Finals each year.

"In 2014, 34 events took place in the stadium.  Since then, the number of events that have taken place has been between 29-32 in total so the overall number of events has declined in the last number of years. Only 2 concerts took place in 2017."

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