So I’ve been contemplating this for a long time, but I think I’m willing to give Ireland
one more chance at redemption after that Eurovision disaster. Dustin the Turkey made a complete
mockery of our country, but on the bright side, there is no possible way we could ever make
our reputation any worse… Jesus Christ we made it worse.
Garth Brooks cancelling all five of his Croke Park concerts in 2014 was the worst thing
to happen to the Irish economy since the recession. It was a spectacular, seemingly never-ending
embarrassment that completely altered people’s perception of Ireland - instead of being known
as a bunch of leprechauns, we were known as a bunch of clowns. But before we get into
that, let’s kick off this video in usual PKMX fashion, by providing some background
information about the subject of the video.
So first of all, who is Garth Brooks?
I’m expecting an army of fifty-year-olds in cowboy hats to arrive at my house any minute
now, but in my defence, Garth Brooks announced his initial retirement when I was nine months
old, so I didn’t exactly grow up with his music. I’m living in a very different generation
of country music, so my knowledge of Garth Brooks is pretty limited. What I do know about
him is that he had the worst turnout rate in the history of Croke Park - 400,000 people
bought tickets for his concerts, but none of them actually showed up. In saying that,
let’s examine the farcical series of events that led to this national heartbreak.
Back in 2014, Garth Brooks announced that he was returning to Croke Park for the first
time since 1997, and this sent everybody in Ireland over the age of 35 into hysteria.
Garths Brooks fever - which I prefer to call “dementia” - had swept the country, and
these gigs were set to be the hottest Irish events of the summer.
It was a boring year.
As you’d expect, there were a bunch of maniacs camping outside to get their tickets, but
this would prove to be pointless when several plot twists would lead to the self-destruction of these concerts.
The original plan was for Garth Brooks to perform a reasonable two nights in Croke Park,
and tickets sold out almost immediately, which is a remarkable achievement when you consider
the scope of it all. Croke Park is the third-largest stadium in Europe, with a capacity of over
82,000. Garth Brooks selling 160,000 tickets in the blink of an eye is nothing to laugh
at, even if it is quite confusing, but the problem here is that Croke Park is primarily
a sport stadium, and it isn’t too enthusiastic about hosting concerts. If you’re a singer
who wants to perform in Ireland, then you’re probably going straight to the 3Arena because
Croke Park only allows a maximum of three special events every year.
And this brings us to one of the most hilarious aspects of this story - those allocated three
dates had already been used up by One Direction.
As a result of this scheduling conflict, Ireland slowly started to become more divided, and multiple parties
were blamed for the controversy - Garth Brooks himself, Aiken Promotions, Dublin City Council, and
even the GAA. When the producers of “The Sunday Game” are being criticised, you know
something is up. Despite the fact that it’s arguably One Direction’s fault that the
Garth Brooks concerts never went ahead, they never really received their share of the blame
and they slipped under the radar. However, the plot thickened as a third date was added
due to popular demand from God-knows-who, and this is when the whole situation started to get messy.
You see, if you want to perform on the grandest stage in our country, you will need this nifty
little thing called a “licence”.
Garth Brooks didn’t have that.
Aiken Promotions adding a third date raised a couple of eyebrows within Dublin City Council,
and this consecutive string of concerts started to become less feasible.
It was a completely impulsive, ill-advised move to add a third date without a licence,
but we all know the reason behind it.
But why stop there?
Why add just one extra date that will eventually be cancelled, when you
can add two more and cause a f-cking apocalypse?
Now this is the part where a trivial fiasco turned into riots on the streets. We all thought
this Garth Brooks drama was needlessly dragged out at the time, but reflecting on this scandal
five years later, 2014 was an incredible time to be alive - if you know, you know. This
wasn’t just a prominent saga on social media - this was heavily featured on broadcast television
and radio every single week. Five concerts were now set to go ahead, and Garth Brooks
was able to sell 400,000 tickets without breaking a sweat - for context, that is almost 10%
of the population, and the Pope attracted a crowd of 130,000. I have no idea who was
buying these tickets, and it still remains one of Ireland’s greatest mysteries. But
the point is that two additional dates just showed up out of nowhere, and this spontaneous
announcement was met with a collective
“Are you taking the piss?”
from Dublin City Council, Croke Park residents,
Jesus Christ, and the GAA.
It was becoming impossible to reach an agreement that suited everybody at this point. Garth
Brooks was adamant about running all five concerts, but residents living near Croke
Park didn’t want their backyards to be used as public bathrooms. Those insane people who
pester you to buy their cheap merchandise outside the venue had imported thousands of
cowboy hats, and the icing on the cake was that Garth Brooks fans were protesting to
let the concerts go ahead.
You really can’t make this sh-t up.
The Mexican Ambassador to Ireland was trying to intervene for whatever reason, and Garth Brooks
was willing to drop on his knees and beg Enda Kenny to let him perform all five concerts.
I don’t think that’s how it works.
The whole situation was embarrassing at this point, and we were all anticipating a final
answer regarding the fate of these concerts so we could put this dilemma to bed. Following
countless negotiations, arguments and fist-fights, Garth Brooks issued his infamous
"Five or None” ultimatum, and then ‘it’ happened.
"Good evening. All five concerts by Garth Brooks at Croke Park in Dublin have been cancelled."
Well, so much for saving our economy.
And just like that, we almost had a sequel to the Troubles. Five Garth Brooks concerts
became zero, and as a fourteen-year-old at the time, you can imagine that I was in tears.
Apparently, Ireland could have gained €50 million from those five days of Garth Brooks
singing his yee-haw music, but instead, Ticketmaster refunded 400,000 tickets, we had more cowboy
hats than we knew what to do with, and the Dublin hotels that hiked up their prices for
that time period suffered some sweet karma when their overpriced bookings were cancelled.
And we can’t forget about the poor souls who bought tickets on DoneDeal for outlandish prices.
I really shouldn’t have sold my kidney for those tickets.
But nobody was more heartbroken than Garths Brooks himself, who claimed that losing his
Croke Park gigs was like a “member of his family dying”.
I think most people were getting tired of this scandal, so it was nice to finally get
some kind of closure. I personally wasn’t affected by this - I know, what a shocker -
but a few of my relatives were pretty upset about Garth Brooks throwing his fans under the bus.
I have reached out to some of my family and friends, and I asked them to send in a video
outlining how they were affected by the Garth Brooks drama. First on the line is…
Oh god, it’s Old Child Support. Let’s see what he had to say.
"I've been thinking about it. I've been thinking about it! Garth Brooks isn't real. Garth Brooks
was set up by the government so they could steal taxes from the elderly and the Chinese.
And now that we're speaking about him, nobody ever talks about the Chinese when it comes
to 9/11, man!"
Well, that was absolutely no help whatsoever. I also requested a contribution from my
auntie - that’s my “aunt” for all you yankees out there - she was pretty upset about
the concerts being cancelled back in the day, so this one should be interesting.
Yeah, I think that’s enough contributions for now. I was going to ask my uncle for his
input, but that rascal got himself sent to prison again, so I’m just going to wrap
up this segment. I think everybody who was affected by these cancellations and managed
to move on deserve a lot of praise, because they are some of the most emotionally strong
people in this country. They missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and there
is no way that Garth Brooks is ever going to return to Croke Park....
Please don’t do this again.
And that is the story of how Garth Brooks tore the country apart. It’s a story that
will go down in the history books, and I cannot wait to explain it to my grandchildren. And to
be fair, I don’t think we should criticise Ireland too much for this fiasco.
No country is perfect. Does Ireland have its flaws?
But is Ireland really a completely incompetent country that humiliates itself way too often?