July 14, 2014

Don't stop the music

Posted in Articles · 87 comments ·

My first major gig was the Police in the summer of 1980. I was 13, and told my mother I was going to an all-day football blitz in Cabinteely.

I stashed my football gear in a hedge down the road and put on my cousin’s Sid Vicious Dead’ T-shirt, which was a print of the Sun newspaper’s headline. Deep down, I’d always wanted to be a punk but my mother wouldn’t let me.

In contrast, her sister, my more tolerant auntie, allowed my cousins to wear tartan bondage trousers, get their ears pierced and even sport proper, soap and water, Exploited Barmy Army’ mohawks. You’ll be glad to hear that these youthful rebels are now middle-aged, golf-playing lawyers.

Appropriately kitted out, we headed from Dun Laoghaire to a place called Leixlip. I had no idea where it was, but I can still feel the teenage thrill of heading into the city and from there, up the Liffey, on a special CIE bus with dozens of others. Our gang was definitely well under age and I remember thinking to myself: ”If this is what growing up is, I love it.

On the bus we were warned by bigger local lads to avoid a mythical skinhead outfit called the Black Catholics or, worse still, a notorious Mod gang called the Cabra A-boys. Both were apparently on the lookout for posh punks. Thankfully, we never came across these heads. However, a few years later, I found myself terrified among them when the Clash were supported by the Belfast skinhead band the Outcasts in the SFX in Dublin.

It was not a pleasant experience, particularly as, desperate to be cool, I had brought a girl to the Clash on our first date. She subsequently emigrated.

The Police were huge in 1980 and were supported by Squeeze, the bizarre John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, the Q Tips and a young Dublin band called U2. Someone threw something at the Police, Sting went off on one and lost much of the crowd in the process. My standout memory was U2 stealing the show and a 19-year-old Bono – who even then was a brilliant frontman, and who understood the chemistry of crowds and the crucial role of the lead singer in this essential alchemy – climbing up on the huge scaffolding stage, belting out I Will Follow from the top of the stage to the enraptured throng.

Fast-forward 30-odd years, and I am writing from Croatia where the local teenagers – one generation after their parents fought a war with the Serbs – are all heading to Serbia and the Exit festival in Novi Sad.

Music brings people together. Gigs are a type of public communion for the secular classes. Concerts are experiences that people value. If you are prepared to spend your hard-earned cash on going to gigs, they matter to you.

For my generation, the music of the 1980s is part of our own specific cultural heritage, and the concerts are part of our musical memory bank with live performances staying with us most of our lives.

We spent huge parts of our measly disposable income on buying music, paying fortunes for ”Japanese imports bought from ads in the back of the NME and generally being financially garroted by the unscrupulous music industry. Now all this has changed.

Recorded music is, to all intents and purposes, free. Streaming sites have insured this. However, many bands, still trying to figure out how to make a crust in this new business model, have taken to the road.

We are now going to more concerts than ever. There are huge gigs all over the continent every summer and millions of people both young and not too old are paying for the pleasure of the live gig. This summer, everywhere from the Ultra festival in Split down the road from me, to Marlay Park in Dublin and Electric Picnic, festivals and gigs are part of the tourist offering countries provide to an increasingly mobile audience.

When I hear about the Garth Brooks saga, I despair, not for the music, because I don’t get country and western at all, but because hosting gigs is something we are good at. Ireland is a good venue. And it could be a brilliant one. Hospitality is what we are supposed to do well.

In a world of cheap travel, gigs are an essential part of the tourist offering of a country – much more essential than say the likes of golf. Hosting a big gig is worth more to a city than a Champions League final and the marketing opportunity is crucial particularly if the gigs are televised. Who doesn’t have a better view of Latin America in general – and Brazil in particular – having seen thousands of smiling fans having a good time?

Now think about the positive impact on music festivals and the greater economy. As usual, we don’t have the figures for Ireland, but for Britain, five years ago in 2009, total revenue from live music was £1.4 billion (Euro 1.7 billion).

Tourists coming to Britain spent £196 million on concerts and £47 million on festivals in 2009. British residents spent £652 million on concerts and £499 million on festivals. Half of the total £1.4 billion expenditure was spent outside music events, in local businesses such as hotels and restaurants.

The table on this page gives you a breakdown of the value of live music across major countries in local currency and converted into dollars. You can only imagine that this industry has grown since then, given the number of gigs staged in Ireland alone during this summer.

In Italy, live music is already worth nearly twice as much at Euro 781 million, compared to recorded music at Euro 419 million. For Britain, the difference is less marked with live music at £1.48 billion and recorded music at £1.24 billion. Worldwide, recorded music retail sales are $25.8 billion, while the live sector is estimated to be $21.6 billion.

This is a huge global industry and we could be getting a little bit of it. Giving in to a few Nimby agitators is not the way to go. We have a giant stadium: use the bloody thing. Seen from outside the country, it looks pathetic, ungenerous and small-minded. Seen from the economic perspective and from the perspective of positioning the country in a huge global industry, it looks like madness.

Music is infectious, music is memorable and music festivals are a profitable part of the tourist calendar. Let’s wise up.

    • Lius

      Adam, Will tomorrow ever come?

      • Deco

        Garrett Brux….

        Never since Bartholomew Ahern has a cowboy produced so many promises of great things to come and delivered on so few of them….

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Adam,

      Unusual for you not to have a go at Gareth Brooks or his fans or even someone writing an article about them?

      Just joking,



      • Well each to his own. ‘Public communion’ as David calls it, is not my scene. I quickly get bored at music concerts and find people congregating in large crowds quite bizarre (herd mentality) so I stopped going to such events years ago.

        Good luck to Garth Brooks, he’s not to blame, if he can persuade 400,000 mugs to pay to see him. I’d rather watch paint dry.

        They should definitely let the concerts go ahead though and tighten up the regulations after that.

          • Bored out of my nut after two songs and I only went in the first place as my brother was promoting it and I was supervising the guest list entry.

          • My favourite form of Public Communion is Kilkenomics once a year, it attracts all sorts, people in loud jackets with delusions of grandeur – the lot.

          • Adam, of course you only went because….you had to…

            Listen, I’m still reeling from DavidMcW disclosure that he’s…..not a Country Music good aul boy. I have to ask, do you think he’s even heard of Johnny Cash?

            Not sure I can carry on contributing to a blog that’s hatin on Country! But if I do and don’t get banned by some Fat Sheriff moaning to David, then I’ll choose my attire for Kilkenomics 2015 very carefully….I have some ideas, but probably a suit this time with even more delusions of grandeur to match the bling-tastic C&Irish duds.


          • I’m wearing Louis Copeland this year Andrew.

          • Adam, I’ve got bin liners full of that Louis Copeland crap. They send it to me hoping I’ll wear it but I’m not done with Dries Van Noten, so it’s charity shop drop-off. Can’t give it away, never mind sell it at a boot sale.

  1. Dorothy Jones

    Well Aiken Promotions sold tickets for two gigs without licence. Garth Brooks ??? Nope me neither.

    • Adelaide

      If my memory serves me correct there were originally only two gigs scheduled. The only-in-Ireland procedure is to sell the tickets first and then apply for a license. Then they sold tickets for five concerts which went against an agreement between Croke Park and the local residents. That’s my understanding.

      A friend lives in that area and seemingly the anti-gig people are those who are not natives, the gentrification strand, stuck in negative equity and stuck in a rut beside a huge stadium, they are cheesed off, while the natives have their kids making money of the concerts/matches doing parking/selling memorabilia etc and they’re pro-gigs.

      • Quelle surprise! Who knew? “the anti-gig people are those who are not natives, the gentrification strand, stuck in negative equity and stuck in a rut beside a huge stadium, they are cheesed off, while the natives have their kids making money of the concerts/matches doing parking/selling memorabilia etc and they’re pro-gigs.”

        • People move here to ye Olde Malvern hills cuz it’s a hippy enclave then promptly try to get the rowdy pot head clubs and working class pubs closed….so they can pretend it’s Switzerland, FFS!

  2. GarySmyth

    “Giving in to a few Nimby Agitators” is very poor & simplistic analysis, David. I would have expected a more rounded argument from you.

    I and my young family live in Drumcondra and see at first hand the affect so many concerts in close proximity have on the local community. Whoever the artist, it’s not fair to expect people to have no choice but to listen to the music played over a period of three nights never mind five. Never mind all the disruption that ensues.

    There is also a wider argument in terms of licences being disregarded in pursuit of profit & greed without regard to a local community.

    I seem to remember you making this argument during & after the Celtic Tiger years, David?

    • So what the feck were Dublin City Council doing waiting till 5 mins to midnight before pulling the plug? Of course residents have rights, but this stinks to high heaven on almost every level with incredible damage to Ireland’s image if it remains unresolved by the Conflict Resolution Team I sent to Enda’s office last week.

  3. DB4545

    I think the key is having an organised planning process for these events with a percentage of the planning fee and profits allocated to local residents organisations. We have a good reputation for hospitality so why not use it to our advantage? We have an Airport terminal in Dublin that we need to use to capacity. Why not develop the music, conventions and events business as a means to showcase the City and the region? Allocate some of the taxes generated to develop and expand the transport infrastructure including a rail link to the City centre. It has to be a winner for Dublin.

    • A rail link to/from the airport to make it an international entertainment hub is good. In Brum, the NEC LG Arena, train & plane stations are within minutes. Hence why Ms Katy Perry did 2 nights there, but none in Dublin: it’s cheaper for her fans to fly to Brum and shop/shag on the £. I met a few of them, but obviously didn’t shag anyone because I’m a married man….She loves the city, as does Miley as folk can fly in from all over Europe and then do the Stratford Shakespeare stuff with they both did with a local Mercian guide, and then get do London when recovered from exhaustion after by being shagged by BrummieBoys’n'Girls in what Ms Cyrus dubbed “the sluttiest city in the world” Those t-shirts are VERY popular now.

      Only problem with Dublin competing with Birmingham for concert revenues is £ vs €

      Young folk fly in for the Villa from all points Europa or head for the city after Man U. Manchester vs Brum in the gig biz? Jayzus, cut-throat. Don’t try and be a scalp with a Manc accent in Brum!…

      • DB4545

        The NEC and Earls Court generate some serious event/convention business in addition to the entertainment end of the market. High skill employment is fine but we need to soak up skill sets at all points of the employment spectrum. We can’t all be Harvard law professors or even economists. The convention business sucks in logistics, set design and construction(unemployed builders) and advertising etc. Fashion shows alone have a high spend crowd( I had no problem knocking out DM800 a day in Munich in 1982 as a rigging electrician). People need to be housed, fed, entertained, wined and dined and transported back to the airport. We have all those skill sets plus the euro plus an English speaking population. We have the cheap flight hub and a new terminal that needs to be utilised with links to Europe.We need an integrated zone type
        travel card for all public transport to make it easy for tourists to understand. A dedicated Airport bus corridor linking to the dart service with frequent(every 5/10 minutes) service included in the price of a travel card would help. A clearly marked ring” or loop bus service linking Heuston/luas lines and the dart service along the city quays would also help. Move the methadone clinics out of the city centre so it doesn’t look like the zombie apocalypse at midday every day. It’s a business that hits every point of the employment chain. I was at the World Cup final in Berlin’s Tiergarten last night. The event was sponsored by Hyundai. Giant TV screens every 500 metres from the Brandenburg gate along the main road similar to the road through the Phoenix park. Free entry for over a million people. Beer tents, food outlets and a friendly but highly visible police presence. Plenty of drunks but no trouble. World Cup money staying in Germany. This is something that is doable with relatively little investment and would put a large cash injection into the local economy. I think you may have hit on something David!

        • Exactly. The same conversations are taking place in Brum, but with the added thrill/horror of HS2 high-speed rail which, if voted in, will not only make B’ham Airport faster to reach from Central London than Gatwick or Stanstead, but will create the Tokyo-Osaka corridor between the metropolis & 2nd city.

          Same vast un/underemployed ex-industrial construction class. Used to be mostly Irish, but loads of them moved back to the Boom. If HS2 kicks off, I expect them to return, reconvene the Birmingham-Shire Irish and scrap for contracts with the rest of them. Once Crossrail is done, there needs to be another mega construction spend to keep the show on the road.

          Agree about conference culture. Brum pitches itself as talkshop of the world, instead of workshop. London mocks, but outside their snob hell zone, most foreign feedback is that Shakespeare’s mutant offspring accent is hilarious and friendly. As, of course, is the range of accents one hears both sides of the Liffey.

  4. I don’t recall any open air pop concerts in my teen years to 1971 in the Mid West Region .The Horseslips group were the rave at the Discos then .Most of rural Ireland still had the ceili and country music mounted on a lorry trailer .

    My first musical concert was at the National Concert Hall when I was 19 and I attended Charles Aznavour only appearance in Ireland after thumbing all the way to Dublin from Limerick . I have attended other shows of his since in France & Monaco and is still performing and going strong at 88 years old and resides in Geneve .

    Lets invite him to Dublin again and bring in more tourists .

  5. thejeckel

    Sure all valid points that I agree with, but here is another important lens.

    What you are asking for is to by-pass legislation – to ignore or find a quick fix so we can ‘see the money’.

    Does this remind you of anything? the banking crisis? Perhaps we need Ireland to be seen as strict on rules and doing the ‘right’ thing rather than always following the short term financial gain.

    • Strict on rules with rules that are fit for purpose, ‘going forward’. The debacle of #GarthGates suggests the same fundamental re-think is required in planning gigs, banking and land zoning and development. That’s why,if unresolved, GarthGate could become an incendiary election issue/lightning rod which could mean that The Thunder Rolls from Garth’s shiny new website into Enda Kenny’s election war bunker.

  6. and we get great summer weather unlike Croatia now where its been dreadful, without the festival there I know 10 young ladies that will not be going back!

  7. douglaskastle

    I feel this situation is very gray. It is a shame, as you say to have a massive stadium and we can barely get to use it beyond sport, 3 concerts a year is not great. I do feel for the residents, we all know how messy Irish people get when they have a day out, I don’t think I would like 80,000 of them passing in front of my front door either. Part of me felt strongly that we should have built a for purpose stadium in the late 90s (Bertie Bowl or what ever) instead of bulking up Croke Park with tax payers money, which will always have residents living around it, this isn’t a new thing.

    However, I lived in Sydney for 12 years and went to a few concerts (yes U2) in the Olympic park. Transport was excellent, crowd management was built in to the design and no complaints from the locals, because no one really lives that close to the stadium. These should all be arguments for building a for purpose stadium. But the place is soulless, there is not much hanging around before or after the concert, some families do use facilities around the Olympic park at weekends, but not so much around the stadium.

    Probably because of where they are located and/or their histories concerts at Croke Park and Slane, seem to be special and that is why both fans and artists like to play them.

    But yes, viewing this only from the Garth Brooks angle is a small view, the big view of not being open for business and concert promoters/performers moving further down the road because you just can’t guarantee your return will be the painful fallout. Even if they do pull it off I think the damage might already be done.

  8. EugeneN

    David is getting a bit populist here. Its a matter of the rule of law.

    1) the promoters didnt get permission when they promoted the concert.
    2) The concerts were therefore cancelled. Overriding planning laws is what got us into this mess.

    Thats the rule of law, not brown paper bags.

    I doubt the economic argument too. Garth is taking, surely, about 50% of the book out of the country. Good for the IRS for sure. The rest would have been spent anyway, unless you can prove that this is extra discretionary spending from our friends down the country, then the national spend is the same. People are flying in, for sure, but that I think would be cancelled out by Garth running off with most of the money,

    Dublin would have benefited. Ireland, less so.

    Less populism David.

    • “Garth is taking, surely, about 50% of the book out of the country.” Why doesn’t he get a 12% or 2.5% FDI investment rate too?

      “Garth running off with most of the money,Dublin would have benefited. Ireland, less so.Less populism David”

      What’s wrong with ‘populism’ ya snob eejit? David is worth reading because he can write stuff that ordinary people like me can understand, not hi-falutin city slicker long-word crap. Where do you live? Ballsbridge?

      • EugeneN

        No the working class northside. Like the people close to Croker.

        What’s wrong with populism is that it produced FF and the Gombeen classes who think that property is the only way to wealth and that planning laws are to be over-ridden on a whim. Or because money is involved.

        We probably both went to the same type of state school. If you think certain words are “high faulitin” it’s probably not a class thing. Just you.

        • Conflation error. Short-term political expediency over long-term national strategy has often been the signature of both FF/FG from the get-go, with some honourable exceptions. Nothing about Populism precludes authenticity and honesty.

          Let’s wait and see what ‘pork barrel’ / gun barrel tales emerge from #GarthBrooks. Was funding for GAA/Community Sports ventures flagged up as a pre-condition for licensing from the start? I hear various rumours but until Enda gets his whip onto the troops, it’s all conjecture and gossip.

          I went to an elite Catholic grammar school full of Birmingham Irish. Brompton, Oxford & Birmingham Oratory, Blair sent his kid to the London one, the entire English Catholic Establishment were ‘groomed’ therein. And then there’s me…..it made a man of me….made me the fine figure of a man I am today.

          “hi-falutin”? It’s a Country&Western-ism for pretentious intellectual types like me. For future reference, should you be foolish enough to read my comments: Product May Contain Irony..

          best wishes.

  9. EugeneN


  10. silverbullet

    Garth, Government, GAA,…..Cowboys, the lot of them!

  11. “Deep down, I’d always wanted to be a punk but my mother wouldn’t let me.”Oh, LOLs! More disclosures on how David was “My Perfect Cousin” .I suppose this explains his periodic E.O.D.D “Economic Oppositional Defiance Disorder” where he gets all upset and emotionally ventilated at Kilkenomics then calms back down and pretends that banks don’t invent money so he isn’t expelled from The Fiat Priesthood.

    Irrelevant aside 2: Is Bono a ginger again? Has he realised that it was NOT COOL to let the school bullies force his head into the black dye dustbin and that it kinda undermines his whole persona? That’s what wound me up about Punk eejits. Johnny Rotten had a right old strop at Bogarts in Brum because us Sabbath fans just gave him *rollsyes* when he tried to be Mr Nasty. He was & is a pussycat, hence the joint decision with McClaren to try & pretend that gig & the one at Barbarellas never happened as it contradicted the fake rebel Meta-Narrative. Ask Morrissey & Howard Devoto, they were there too. I worked downstairs in the Bier Kellar, shagging hen parties and serving beer. I was barely 16…. Enda Kenny is air-brushing junior cabinet ministers off the Fine Gael website as I write. Very Stalin! *sigh*

    Irrelevant aside 2: My mate E O’Callaghan runs a festival in Croatia, used to run a *famous* club in Liverpool that was chocka with Dubs after Man U/Everton jollifications. Hello E! Aceeed!

    Yes recorded music is shafted, but soon live music will be with the ‘convenience fees’ and pay 2 euros to print yer own ticket crap… David! You don’t like Country’n'Irish? If i was your wife I’d be doing the gay audit, mt8. Very suspicious, won’t go down well at Sunday footie if you pluck up the courage to come out and tell them you don’t have a stetson and boots in the wardrobe. It’s like saying your’re not into GAA : you HAVE TO BE! Your on-island authentic Irish, so it’s obligatory. Us plastic paddy types can Pass on it without raising too many suspicions. We were going to call our Daniel, Gabriel, but the missus said he’d be teased as “Gay” in the playground. I tried to raise the whole “Gay Byrne Gaybo Late Late Show” cultural motif but she just said “No”. So Daniel it was/is.

    I’m discussing re-routing that #GarthBrooks ship to Cardiff Millenium Stadium if Enda doesn’t geta grip. SERIOUSLY…. (or bollix?) Culchies en masse headed to Cardiff on the boat? Do ye know the C18th history of the Welsh city that isn’t…Welsh… at all? Shire Irish, etc.

    I think #GarthGate was priceless online entertainment, as in parallel dimension of crazeee unreal. If Enda can balance the residents and the punters then it will be a MASSIVE P.R boost for Ireland Inc to fill their boots on with ingenue tourists. No matter what scenes of delirium were imagined before the Catastrophic Cancellation, what will unfold if there’s a #LetsGoFiveInARow Garth shows resurrection will be AWESOME! beyond anything the city has ever seen, making most of the world want to visit, only to forlornly trapise around Temple Bar in the rain being raped for 7 euros a pint.

    I’m not a fan of Garth, some songs are OK,but mostly, I’m meh! but a lot of lads I’ve slept with over the years worship him. And the usual GAA heroes, of course. And Enda….LOLOLOLOLOL! Having said that, I’ll be on the island when the shows are scheduled doing ancestor worship with the kids, so might nip up to Dublin to see the scenes of jubilation or mourning as the police mount major ops outside Copper Face Jacks. Etc.
    “Buses arrived from Donegal, Belfast and Newry with droves of eager fans uniting for a march through the capital”


    Droves? I heard it was 50….

  12. StephenKenny

    On the one hand, people flying in from all round the world, and the country, is clearly a business opportunity not to be missed, if at all possible.

    On the other, no economy provided what we used to call a ‘first world’ standard of living by focussing on tourism. It just doesn’t generate enough high skilled employment.

    The problem seems to be that of a proportion of the population trying to sustain the social and economic constructs that they became used to during the Tiger, while the country actually needs to find a new, lower level of balance, that reflects the reality of the times.

    While everyone’s living in this weird social and economic fantasyland, I guess nothing will really change.

  13. Adelaide

    “… fantasyland” is right, it only exists on mainstream media.

    Fantasy News. Here’s an example. Tonight on RTE Six News the main feature was the ‘Skills Shortage in ICT’, how 50% of the jobs go to foreign professionals, how difficult it is to find suitable candidates, there are thousands upon thousands of vacancies (I forget the number actually, but it’s a big number), and unless the problem’s not fixed the Irish ICT sector could wither on the vine.

    The news piece implied the solution is to ramp up the number of Irish ICT graduates. The tone of it was that with a tweek there’ll be 1000′s more jobs in the bag for the Irish, a good vibe story really. Now, any parents-with-teenagers looking at this News? would be thinking “hmm, ICT, get our little Sammy into that, jobs aplenty…”

    I work in the ICT sector. This is utter spin.
    Fact: there are those vacancies due to a skills shortage.
    Fiction: more Irish ICT graduates will fill those vacancies.

    Reality Check – I would guess there are presently more Irish ICT graduates on the dole than there are vacancies. The truth is, which didn’t feature on the News?, is the Irish third level churn out duds. Their courses are not fit for purpose. And ICT companies simply don’t hire Irish graduates bar the top 10%. So ramping up the number of Dud graduates will not fix the problem and that little Sammy will have wasted four years for nout, all thanks to an RTE News piece his parents saw one summer.

    If RTE News? did News instead of feel-good propaganda its piece title should have read “Irish Skills Shortage in ICT due to sub-standard Irish Third Level” with the tagline “If you want your little Sammy to get a job in Ireland in ICT, then first send him to college in Poland”

    • Bamboo

      I was in ICT as well for most of my career. It looks as that we need to educate parents as well to stop living in a dream. We need a culture of continuous reality checks.

    • mediator

      HI Adelaide

      could you explain in more detail? Are courses like computer applications in DCU and similar not teaching the skills required?

      What skills do they need that they’re not getting – coding?


      • Reality Check

        Mediator, I reckon the whole ICT shortage thing is propaganda by the educational establishment to pimp their courses and propaganda by the likes of that dragons den yank guy to keep the pressure on the Govt for more Non-EU visas to be given to cheap programmers from Bangalore.

      • Adelaide

        I am an on-site consultant in the ICT, hence I’m on the road a lot visiting clients. As for your question I can only report what I hear from my clients. According to them there are two reasons for the persistent vacancies we hear so often in the news. 1) They don’t hire Irish graduates because the majority fail their required calibre in their pre-interview testing programs. Generally a job candidate sits three tests, only after they pass are they then interviewed. The tests (1to3 hours) take place on-site and tasks them with devising real-time solutions to standard problems. I am told Irish graduates consistently fail because they lack the required problem-solving critical thinking. They labour at applying their knowledge to a real world situation under pressure. As one client said, “They don’t have the Right Stuff”. I am told Eastern Europeans excel on these tests. 2) Although salaries are on a par with other countries the cost of living here is a deterrent to attracting foreign staff. I often hear HRs complaining of jobs offers being refused by interviewed candidates AFTER they’re informed of the salary, because with a quick calculation salary-minus-cost of living they find other countries more lucrative.

        Anyway that’s what I’ve been hearing for years, and sure with a quick head-count at their offices you see how few young Irish are employed compared to their Eastern European peers.

        • mediator

          Thanks Adelaide

          Thats really informative – I find the same thing with students in business studies classes but to me the problem is our second level and maybe even primary in that problem solving and critical thinking are somewhat free form whereas our leaving cert and system generally rewards rote learning rather that applying knowledge and skills to finding solutions.


          • Adelaide

            Comparison: I’m just back from a business trip to Israel, now there is country that’s pro-active on a Smart Economy, super impressive effort with a genuine ICT sector backed up by dedicated national resources and a national Plan with joined-up-thinking. I was at a conference hosted by an Israeli software company, it employs twenty thousand employees, whereas Ireland’s largest indigenous software company has plateaued at one thousand employees and yet both country’s national population and land mass are relatively equal. Back home I’d not be overly optimistic about the future of ICT in Ireland. It will return to being a niche employer. My reasoning is that the last few years it domestically has been bloated by cheap money via investment funding and too too too many companies are being kept afloat annually with no tangible revenue. It’s in a bubble. Once interest rates rise the funding will be pulled and only the few ‘genuine’ companies will be left operating. Whereas I’d not be surprised to see the next IBM/Microsoft etc to come from Israel. “Fail to prepare…” and all that.

          • DB4545

            The problem with the current Irish education system at third level can be solved very efficiently and speedily. If you want an education take out a student loan and pay for it. That will give a third level candidate the critical thinking skills they need. The simple calculation will be choosing a course that will give a return on the investment of their own time and their own money. It also means an end to taxpayer funded courses in areas that have no real world job applications for most of the candidates. Studying “sports management” in some regional college or “orts” in the cowshite University will rarely give that return on investment. The “Oisins” and “Orlas” will just have to get real at 18 instead of 22 and the upside is taxpayer resources can hopefully be deployed more efficiently.

    • Reality Check

      +1 Adelaide, I don’t work in IT but I’d be willing to bet what you are saying is the truth. Education standards are a joke in this country.

  14. I was 7 years when I learned the fickleness of the crowd and so subsequently was not inclined to folveryone getting on the bus together all agog over the lastest supposed adonis or hero.
    low the herd to the next great event.
    Rather I observed the foolishness of e
    I could appreciate the music, the skill and beauty of art, or the skill and conditioning of the athlete or the grace and beauty of a race horse, the power and finesse of a show jumper, but I have also understood the stupidity of the crowd and determined not to follow.

    Think in that vein I came accross the latest musings of Jim Sinclair


    It seems to me that a gigantic sucking sound is heard as the showmen make off with the hard earned cash of those daft enough to give it to them. There is little economic benefit to the locals and non to the consumer of the over loud presentations that go by the name of entertainment today.

    Bread and circuses are provided while the bankers make off with your deposits if you have saved anything at all after spending it all on such fleeting pleasures.

    • Reality Check

      Where is Deco these days?
      I miss his wisdom on this board!

    • Reality Check

      Those Gold/Doomsday pumper/scammers are tedious!

    • “I was 7 years when I learned the fickleness of the crowd”

      I had a similar experience Tony, maybe there is a pattern here.

      I told my teacher (a nun) in primary school, in 1980 that I thought that there was no God and this religon stuff they were teaching me was not true.

      She called in the local priest (nice bloke as far as I remember, who visited the school often) and they took me to my house to see my mother to deal with this ‘crisis’.

      Her response to the two of them was: ‘well, he’ll make up his own mind’.

      When you get that kind of empowerment from your own mother at the age of 6, in 1980s Ireland – well, you are ‘on the pig’s back’.

  15. sorry, I did not notice the computer had scrambled the sentences.Reconstruct>>>

    was not inclined to follow the herd to the next great event. Rather I observed the foolishness of everyone getting on the bus together all agog over the lastest supposed adonis or hero.

  16. David says: ‘ Don’t Stop The Music’.

    Garth says:

    “As hard as I try, I cannot see the light on this one,” he said. “ So it is with a broken heart, I announce the ticket refunds for the event will go as posted by Ticketmaster.”


    Our so called Politicians have failed us without a Leader that can give us hope and without a party following that will Listen .

    Entrapment might best sum the feelings of the electorate with No Hope and No Music .


    • Right, so. Cardiff Millenium Stadium? Where is that ship full of star spangled country’n'irish stages sets and Nashiville pimped suits?

      It’s going to be a busy day….. #GarthBrooks is THE defining political event of this year as it symbolizes, summarizes and synergises (new word!) all of the various strands that we’ve seen before from Mahon to Bertie Bung The Emergency [Troika Bankster Bailout 2008 remix]

      Enda, I’m having a quick bath but I have a window to speak to your team around 8:15am.


      “Mad Paddy From Brum: Patrick Pearse was his father’s son”

  17. Bamboo

    My wife and I went to see the street performers at Merrion square over the weekend and we really enjoyed it. What was noticeable was that there are just a handful of acts comparing to a couple of years ago. Parking in town was very easy and the city seems to be abandoned. The Merrion square Art that I usually enjoy is downsized to a skeleton group of hard core artists. There is no waiting list anymore to exhibit at the park an artist told me. It was only a couple of years ago when the area was full of people and this year there are big gaps on the streets with no acts and just some people walking. Street acts seem to be replaced by food stalls. Driving out of the city we noticed that it is very quite on the road. At some stage at pierce street our car was the only car at the traffic lights, waiting for a couple to cross the road. It felt that the capital is abandoned. Is threre something that I should know.
    As StephenKenny and Adelaide said above – we should look at reality as it is. I’ve been out of the country for some time and I was looking forward to spend some time home especially when I hear about the optimism through RTE. The food industry seems to be the new entertainment industry with plenty of cafés and very very good food.

    • StephenKenny

      The cafes are interesting – I’ve noticed that in a number of places. Although I’ve always felt I should have been born Greek or Spanish – given their endless cafe cultures – cafes are economically a very poor replacement for shops:
      Cafes carry essentially no stock and can easily get by with paying the lowest wages – their effect on the economy outside their walls is at best, slight.
      Most shops, on the other hand, buy their considerable stocks from all sorts of other companies, many of them varying sorts of manufacturers or at least fabricators. The wages of their staff reflect the complexity and value of the products they sell.

      Per dollar of sales, solar panel shops create more national wealth than do coffee shops.

  18. SMOKEY

    I met Randy Rhodes on the night of the infamous Ozzy biting the head off the bat in Des Moines when I was 18. I met the Ramones and AC DC in 1979 at an autograph signing, these were life changing events for a young teenage boy. I met Steve Martin when I was 14 in Des Moines too! Sounds like a porkie, but its true.
    Unlike David, I was the genuine article and went on to record records and play live gigs for years. It didn’t make me a star because I didn’t have the mega talent some stars have.
    But the Garth Brooks thing reminds me of one of the first political putdowns I ever heard in my first year in Ireland and relates to the inability of those in power to get anything done. It was in reference to the govt in 2003. “they couldn’t organize a piss up in a brewery”
    That about sums it all up.

  19. Reality Check

    The layout of the comments is extremely frustrating.

  20. Deco

    I am siding with the residents on the issue of planning permission and consultation.

    However, there are issues that stick out like a sore thumb.

    Why didn’t Aitken have a plan b, considering that plan A was farcical, and did not have approval of the authorities ?

    How come no other venue offered itself for the concerts ?

    Slane in County Meath would have easily handled the events, even over a week – I recollect several U2 concerts being held in Slane a few years back, and no issues arose. The locals in Slane were involved and committed to the making the events a success.

    Also how come the GAA did not have a plan B involving Thurles of Pairc Ui Caoimh – with 60,000 seated capacity, and further capacity on the actual pitch ?

    Astounding failure of lateral thinking made this into a serious of non-events.

    As a side note, it should be noted that we have learned that Garth Brooks Inc. is nothing more than a marketing machine.

    And Aitken is an amateur.

    It is not the end of the world.

    • Let’s just wait and see what comes out in the aftermath. The GAA are being very, very quiet and spinning for Jayzus to try and deflect the heat.

      The are rumours of ‘pork barrel’ post-factum conditions to the contract by various parties and other equally dynamite whispers.

      It’s not just Aitken, DCC & the GAA though. Garth Brooks surely understood that there was widespread antipathy to his art within Fortress Dublin patrolled by D4/D8. Springsteen showed the road-map for working class heroes to celebrate Culchie Culture ‘beyond the Pale’. He could have played any combination of Belfast, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny & Cork and flipped the bird to the snobs in the metropolis. He failed to do his research for the most important gigs of his career. It’s simply astonishing. Only Elvis has sold more records, FFS!

      That ship may/may not be headed for Pembroke/Milford Haven & Cardiff Millenium Stadium which is covered, holds 65k punters and has a track record of hosting mega-events, ready to host the event later this year. Or will it just be sank or turned back to the US? If it was indeed ‘for Irish eyes only’ the nearest logical place to host it is Cardiff.

      Or he could play guerilla gigs like Prince in random bars with just a geetar. If he’s serious about being top dog in Country’n'Irish, he’s got to do something….

      Of course, some curious minds are wondering why the Stradbally Estate weren’t approached to host the events, given Electric Picnic 2014 means it’s all set up and ready to roll for 3 days of mass audiences. Were the good folk of Laois & Offaly really likely to protest at the prospect of 400k punters pouring into the region to spend a vast amount of money? Anyone who thinks Garth’s fans wouldn’t rough it in a tent in hicksville to watch their hero has clearly spent far too much time in Dublin. Was Stradbally Estate even approached? Were Slane? It’s all rather *fascinating*.


      My father left Dublin for Birmingham in the 50s because he was ‘poor padddy on the railway’ and was constantly mocked for his country boy Culchie accent and demeanour by the city slickers in the Big City. He would NOT be surprised by this tsunami of nonsense. As my father’s son and sharing his name, I’m also totally NOT shocked by the cronyism, in-fighting and pecking order planning politics of the various Dublin elites who have made a laughing stock of themselves. Who knew? *rollsyes*

      As a mad, bad, dangerous to know polymorphously perverse vegan atheist, on paper, I should revile everything that Garth Brooks and his legions of supporters stand for. But life’s rarely simple and #GarthGate is byzantine already, never mind the implications ‘going forward’.

      • Colin

        In London, I’ve yet to be ‘slagged’ as a Paddy, yet in Dublin I was ‘slagged’ as a Culchie at almost every opportunity. Of course, I didn’t take any offence, as I knew there was absolutely nothing to be ‘proud’ of being a Dub. I just didn’t ‘get’ Dublin. OK, there are some nice charming pubs dotted around the place, but what else? It can’t compete with London on anything. It can’t even compete with Glasgow! Thuggery and druggery rule the streets, but keep calling Limerick stab city (when was the last stabbing there?) and pretend life is great altogether. Retail rip-offery at every turn. Mental traffic congestion, expensive property, high risk of burglaries, car jacking, murder by cars mounting footpaths, paedo perverts lurking everywhere, fat birds and the awful smell of the St James’ Gate brewery fumes – at least, English pub chain Wetherspoons who opened in Blackrock recently saw the sense in not stocking the devil’s buttermilk.

        • Dilly

          Irish have always been mouthy esp in Dublin. My brother is always amazed when he comes back home and has strangers say random things to him on the street or in the pub. It tends get Irish people into lots of trouble when they go away to other countries. They think everyone wants to hear what they have to say even complete strangers.

          • DB4545

            As a Dub who was brought up about 50 yards from Fatima Mansions and who lived abroad for a good number of years Dubliners have a ridiculous tolerance for scumbag behaviour. Sadly most of our other major cities and towns have been infected with this virus. Picture a major town in Northern Spain. Twenty thousand people eating and drinking and generally having a good time. There’ll be a police van in a corner of one of the squares.The Guardia Civil will be there with large batons and Alsatians and properly armed and generally good natured. But the visible message is clear, enjoy your night but fuck around and you will be having a very unpleasant night indeed.It works. We need a similar policing policy adapted to the real world and not some Irish 1950′s “Dixon of Dock Green” fantasy. It makes for a really pleasant night out in most European cities and towns.

  21. Deco

    We either have planning codes, or we don’t. And in this instance, the planning codes held (even if Owen Keegan’s interpretation should have been stricter).

    Failure to find another venue was the real problem.

    Aitken should have appealed to the people of Slane, to Henry Moutcharles, and to Meath county Council for a venue, when the controversy first erupted.

    But instead he bulled onward trying to force Dublin city council to violate the planning codes.

    • DB4545

      I’m all for planning codes through democratic processes. The guy who got to make the decision is on 170,000 Euros a year of taxpayers money and as far as I know wasn’t elected. Even after Mr. Brooks got his cut of 50 million that’s still a lot of money spinning around and generating tax revenue to pay those insane wages. Henry Mountcharles has a good reputation for looking after local interests in Slane. Every kid in the village gets a couple of tickets when the concerts are on and the local interest groups are funded. I’m unclear on the merits of titled aristocracy in a Republic but he has a better sense of noblesse oblige than most of the “republican parties” who colluded in bankrupting our little Republic. He could have sold out for a golf course or to a developer but obviously the man had more sense than to get into bed with those bunch of thieves.

  22. Deco


    Would it possible for you to mediate between Aitken, Brooks, Henry Mountcharles, and Slane ?

  23. Deco

    What is killing Ireland in respect of the concerts and other ventures that don’t happen, is a lack of flexibility.

    Alright, it will not happen in Croker. Fine, what else have we got that can do the job ?

    Lateral thinking was absent. Aitken was trying the same procedure, and expecting a different result. Because Aitken was intellectually lazy.

    Even more alarming, the GAA never produced alternatives. The Department of Sport (a junket outfit if ever there was one) sat on it’s hands.

    Where is the mental agility to produce other options ?

    Does it have to be Croker, just because Garth Brooks said it must be so ?

    When you lose on one option, then create others. Aitken was lazy. The GAA was lazy. And Brooks is just a marketing machine anyway. He seemed to be only obsessed with losing face, and not being humbled by bureaucracy.

    Nothing wrong with NIBYism. Just move the business elsewhere. Why were there no venues like Millstreet or Thurles or Slane competing for the business ?

    If you mean business as a country, then you have to be prepare to compete internally to bring business to you town/neighbourhood.

    How many other towns are moaning about “the government not doing anything” when they failed to have a business proposition available for Brooks Inc ?

    • Dilly

      I think Brooks cancelled all because he may have been on the hook for the two cancelled gigs. By cancelling all I think maybe he doesnt have to pay anything. It always comes down to money which is sad but thats the world we live in. Money is God especially to Paddy.

  24. Dilly

    There is a reason why there are so many festivals and concerts. This is because it is the only way to generate revenue other than starting your own label or clothing range. The Pixies admitted, that they dont get along and are not fond of festivals. But they need the income. They no longer make enough money from music sales to live comfortably. Its a business and the majority of these festivals are rubbish. I did however have a good laugh when these people came out in the press screaming about “Oirlands reputation abroad”. Its just too funny. I do like Electric Picnic and Cork Jazz but thats it. I would also like to try Burning Man but Glastonbury is getting old.

  25. Fat Tony

    Being forced to listen to Garth Brooks five nights in a row has to qualify as some sort of torture. So unless the residents deserve that sort of guantanamo bay experience, I for one am glad that we tell the world that Ireland is too sophisticated to let that talentless ‘auld crooner in here.

  26. J-Will

    Again David, a very clever title …but this time,i was sure it was an article on Obama….wrong again ;(

    It’s easy to call bullsh*t and by all means do,but I say Obama has lost his swagger in recent days,even his facial expressions are telling..stress fractures are beginning to show?

    ok i’m biased,but I see strain,but a stone cold killer maverick like him in a “i got nothing to loose as i can’t run again” kinda mindset, makes me worry. What might that crazy MoFo do next ?! What are his orders? Most Americans hate him and the US polls reflect it.

    I was intrigued with what Glenn Greenwald’s next BLOCKBUSTER story was gonna be…maybe further revelations copper-fastening the Saudi involvement in 9/11 tragedy and ensuing cover-up ? it wouldn’t be a bad guess maybe?

    Badger Trap and Gateway to Tyranny


  27. J-Will

    Hey i didn’t mean to cause a big scene just wait ’til i finish this glass,then i will post this last link and you can kiss my ass ;)

    My favourite Garrrth ( “yeahhh,that’s what they call me back home”) song
    is going out over the airwaves for you Fat Tony for your earlier blasphemy !



  28. gcy_1980

    Won’t be a huge issue in a few years once Pairc Ui Chaoimh is re-developed. Specifically a Sports and Concert Venue. It seem the GAA is positioning itself to take a slice of the pie…but it will be Cork that benefits…

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