89-year-old granny enjoys the ‘party atmosphere’ in queue for Garth tickets

February 3, 2014

by Christine Keighery

As Garth Brooks mania swept the country last week, thousands of dedicated fans formed queues on the cold streets to buy tickets for the American country star’s July gigs in Croke Park, with an 89-year-old Cullyhanna grandmother even swopping places in the queue with her granddaughter to ensure she got her much-sought-after tickets.

With two concerts already confirmed for Friday 25th and Saturday 26th July, demand was so high that a third date was announced soon after tickets went on sale on Thursday morning.  Incredibly all three shows sold out in less than two hours as fans snapped up tickets to witness the country music icon mark his return to the Irish stage after a 17 year absence.

Die-hard fans camped out at ticket venues all over the country, braving the torrential downpours and biting January winds. Hundreds of south Armagh fans made their way to the Ticketmaster outlet at Declan Loughman Sports in Castleblayney as early as Tuesday to begin a two night sit-out.

One avid follower who pitched up outside the store around 4pm on Tuesday shared her delight with us that her dedication had paid off when she became the proud owner of 6 tickets for the opening night on Friday 25th July.

Aine Lenagh was part of a group of six cousins from Cullyhanna who, armed with sleeping bags, cardboard boxes, umbrellas and bin liners, braved the elements for 48 hours in their quest for tickets. The mum-of-three said spirits were high among everyone gathered and described a “camaraderie” that led to two days of “a street party atmosphere” that she said only added to the whole Garth Brooks experience, which is yet to come.

It seems the sit-out for the Cullyhanna women was a fairly organised affair, with friends and family arriving over the two days to take their place in the queue to cover breaks or while they tended to children at home. Aine’s 89-year-old grandmother even joined in the fun, settling in amongst the crowd to provide cover for Aine and enjoy the party atmosphere.

Aine had high praise for the Blayney businesses that all banded together to show their support for the plucky fans by providing meals and tea and coffee on tap for the committed crew.

“The Blayney businesses were so good to us,” she said. “Apache Pizza and Lin’s Chinese takeaway kept us going all of Tuesday night with food and as much tea and coffee as we could drink. On Wednesday, the Glencarn Hotel fed us soup and Dinkins Bakery gave us free tea and coffee all day.  We were amazed how good people were to us.”

Eventually bagging 36 tickets between them for the country star’s opening gig on Friday night, Aine says she’ll never forget her sit-out experience and is adamant that it was the only way her family could secure the Friday night tickets they so desperately needed.

“We couldn’t take the chance of waiting online on Thursday morning as we have a mutual cousin’s wedding on Saturday 26th July, so we absolutely needed to get Friday night tickets. We even had to get a ticket for the groom so he’ll be partying at Garth Brooks on the eve of his wedding!”

Declan Loughman, the owner of the Ticketmaster outlet, said the turnout was much bigger than he had expected.

“We were led to believe that people would probably start to queue up on Wednesday morning so when the first person landed at 1pm on Tuesday, we knew it was going to be big,” he said.

“The biggest concert we remember in 30 years of selling tickets was for Garth Brooks 20 years ago, and now he’s the biggest all over again.”

Declan said he was pleased that everyone who queued over one or two nights got tickets and revealed there were only a few disappointed fans who were latecomers arriving on Thursday morning.

“We’re always asked how many tickets we’ve been allocated but it doesn’t work like that” he revealed.  “We never know ahead of ticket sales and just keep printing the tickets until they stop printing. That happened around 11am on Thursday when, thankfully, all those on the sit-out had got theirs. The two-day build up was definitely good fun and there was a great atmosphere here in Blayney with no trouble whatsoever amongst the crowd queuing,” he added.

The July concerts are taking place ahead of Brooks’ world tour and more than 240,000 tickets have been sold for the three shows.