Wednesday 27 March 2019

Getting ready to rock!

Council gears up for big concerts at Malahide Castle as tickets for locals comes up for debate

John Manning

With some huge names taking to the stage at Malahide Castle this summer in a series of at least five major gigs, Fingal County Council is in preparation mode and one of the aspects of hosting a successful series of concerts at the venue is making sure the local population are taken care of.

A certain amount of disturbance for locals is inevitable with such big events happening on their doorstep and part of the mitigation of that impact is the distribution of tickets for the concerts to the worst affected by them.

The trouble is where to draw the line, given the limited amount of tickets available to distribute to the local community.

That was the subject at the centre of a debate at the most recent meeting of the Malahide/Howth Area Committee.

Cllr Eoghan O'Brien (FF) raised the issue and said that the quality of this year's line-up has already prompted a lot of requests from locals for tickets.

He said that last year the council did its best to meet the demand but he recommended a more formal process for ticket allocation be put in place for this year's gigs.

He said he wanted to 'start a discussion' on the issue, early in the year so the council had time to put a system in place, well ahead of the concerts in June and July.

Cllr O'Brien recommended a kind of opt-in system where interested residents would register their request and if their were more applicants than tickets available, then there would be a lottery.

Cllr O'Brien suggested 'weighting' the system to favour residents living closer to the venue.

He also acknowledged that last year, the council had an issue with people not showing up to collect tickets that had been allocated to them.

Cllr Jimmy Guerin (NP) said he was 'very supportive' of the concerts and believed locals should receive an allocation of tickets. He said the population of Malahide had proven to be 'very welcoming' of concert goers.

Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Anthony Lavin (FG) agreed and said that people living near the venue had been 'very patient' with the event and deserved reward for that but he accepted that coming up with a fair system of allocation for tickets would be 'challenging'.

Cllr Keith Redmond said it was important to have 'community buy-in' for the concerts and important the council does not do anything that would 'deter' locals from supporting the concerts.

Senior council official, Stephen Peppard said that the tickets could not be distributed too far out from the concert dates, to avoid their resale but he said that allowing people to pick up tickets on the day proved to be a 'major headache' last year.

He said he was drawn to the idea of a lottery but the precise method of allocation was yet to be decided.

The five confirmed concerts so far, kick off with Snow Patrol on Friday, June 7 and an incredible opening weekend at the castle venue will be completed when on the following night, The Cure take to the Malahide Castle stage for their long-awaited return to the live stage.

June 16 sees Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds headline a Sunday night gig, the year after the other Gallagher brother, Liam took to the same Malahide stage.

June 21 sees the popular George Ezra headline on a Friday night at Malahide Castle while on the following night, it is the turn of Lana Del Ray to headline.

Rumours persist of a sixth date and watch this space for details if another night of music emerges.

But already, the five night line-up is an impressive one and will make Malahide a Mecca for live music in a June nobody will forget.

Promoters and the council have a lot of work to do between now and then to make sure the five concerts go off without a hitch and with a minimum of disruption to locals.

Fingal Independent