By Aubrey Malone
Yippee, Garth Brooks is coming to Croke Park in September. For five concerts! Do you remember the hoo-ha about him eight years ago? Of course you do. That was the last time Garth was supposed to be coming to Croker.
I was beside myself. Had to pinch myself to make myself believe it was true. The Garth Brooks? Surely not.
The residents of the area started kicking up. They said the shows would create too much noise. Too much noise, too much litter and too much hooliganism – from friends in low places. They’d had their fill of that kind of thing from other concerts. The City Council needed to step in.
A gun was put to Garth’s head. They said he could only do three concerts. If there were going to be any more they’d have to be matinee ones.
Matinees? For the great Garth Brooks? How could he deliver the full force of his special effects in the daytime? No way, José. It would be heresy.
He begged the great and good of Ireland to let him go ahead with the five. That was the number that had been agreed on by the promoters back in January. He even pleaded with our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Could he not pull some strings with people in high places – or low places?
Garth went down on his knees to him. If Tony Blair could get Coronation Street’s Deirdre Rachid out of jail, as he did back in the day, surely Enda could get Garth up on that stage for five concerts. We had the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6. Now it was time to help the Croke Park 1.
We were all left to rot in the end. Enda failed to rouse himself to the challenge his country put to him. Garth stayed put in Yankee Land. Enda went AWOL. The loyal following cried into their pillows in Drumcondra.
Some of the spleen directed at Enda eventually trickled down to Garth. Ireland became divided down the middle. Whose side were we on – Garth’s or the Angry Residents of Dublin 3?
It was like Civil War all over again.Was it for this the wild geese spread their wing on every tide? Forget Padraig Pearse. Forget James Connolly. Get out your gun and fight for Garth. That’s what real patriotism meant.
I don’t know how people didn’t die over the cancelled concerts. I don’t know how blood wasn’t spilt on the streets. Did people get coronaries? Did they erect effigies of Garth? I needed to know.
By the end of the summer we had to accept the fact that he wasn’t coming to us. In fact there was a very real prospect that he might never grace our shores again after the way we’d treated him. Could we live with the prospect of such a calamity?
Now it’s all happening again. What will the situation be like this time? I live close enough to Croke Park to be able to faintly hear the singing. Neither do I have to deal with the mess. It’s great being able to feel like you’re in the venue.
I once heard of a person who lives right beside Croke Park. She turns down the volume on her TV set when the All-Ireland is on. No kidding. She watches the images and listens to the sounds of the actual people in the stands cheering. It must be like the ultimate in 3D stereo.
No one knows how this saga is going to play out. Five concerts? Three? None?
Wish I had a crystal ball. It may be fine or it may go pear-shaped.
In the meantime get the Stetson out.
Just in case.