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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie Shauneen McGuire and Alanna Coyle from Tyrone as they wait to get into Croke Park.
# 'till the sun comes up
Garth Brooks sheds tear on stage as long-awaited gig kicks off for cowboy-hatted fans
A busy night was expected for public transport in Dublin as fans headed towards the stadium.

LAST UPDATE | Sep 9th 2022, 8:29 PM

GARTH BROOKS HAS shed a tear on stage this evening at the first of his long-awaited gigs in Dublin.

The country star has often spoke about his love of Ireland and his regret that his 2014 shows ultimately did not go ahead.

He has returned to Croke Park this evening to the delight of fans who gathered in the stadium tonight, many of them wearing cowboy hats.

The checked shirts and stetsons were brought out of the back of the wardrobe as people got ready for a gig that’s been in the works since 2014.

Last night and earlier today, the sounds of the country star soundchecking could be heard around parts of Ballybough, Fairview and Drumcondra – including a medley of Queen songs.

While we couldn’t be sure if what he tested out would be what would make it to the stage, what we do know is that Brooks is in fine fettle. He’s been in training (literally – he worked out to get himself fit for the gig, he says) for this gig, and it must be a redemptive moment for him after all the drama of 2014.

One fan told The Journal that they’d been waiting for today since that drama eight years ago:

“Looking forward to a night of nostalgia finally after missing out on the 2014 gigs. No doubt he’ll give it his all and the musicianship behind him is always fantastic!”

At a press conference yesterday, an earnest Brooks told journalists that: “If there’s one word in their minds after the show, I want it to be ‘love.’ I want people to feel like they’ve seen love up on that stage.” That love is certainly being paid towards him today, as tens of thousands flock to hear him play songs from across his musical career. 

We’ll be sharing our thoughts on the gig tonight, so check back later to see how well Garth Brooks rocked Croke Park.

IMG_4568 TheJournal / AoifeBarry Stetsons for sale outside Croke Park TheJournal / AoifeBarry / AoifeBarry

Advice for securing a taxi this weekend 

If you’re heading to one of the concerts by public transport, Free Now Ireland said it anticipates the nights of the concerts will be “particularly busy for members of the public looking to book taxis due to the high volume of concert attendees”. It is predicting an increase in trip requests on its app of about 215% versus similar weekend peak periods in previous months. 

With an anticipated rise in demand for taxis over the next two weekends, Bolt Ireland operations manager James Bowpitt has provided a number of tips for those trying to get a cab after the Brooks gigs. 

“Walk a few blocks from the busy points near Croke Park, even if this means venturing to nearby suburbs such as Fairview or Drumcondra,” he said. 

“A driver is much more likely to accept a trip in a quieter location as there is less traffic and you are much easier to identify in a less crowded area,” Bowpitt added. 

“Also, drivers know where the demand is, so if you walk away from the stadium, there’s a good chance you will catch them when they are on their return journey from another fare. This is particularly useful for hailing a driver on the street.” 

Free Now Ireland is “strongly advising passengers to plan their journeys well in advance where possible”. 

“We recommend that those attending the concerts this weekend and next consider multiple transport options, potentially travel as part of a group if joining friends or family and avoid other reliance on taxis as the only possible transport solution at peak times,” the spokesperson said. 

Public transport options

In terms of alternatives to taxis, Irish Rail has said it is adding additional services on the nights of the concerts. 

Additional late night Intercity trains will operate with a 12.40am service from Heuston to Cork – with a connection at Limerick Junction to Limerick – after each gig. 

These trains must be pre-booked as there is “very limited capacity” remaining. 

Additional services will also operate after the concerts on the following routes:

  • The northbound and southbound DART lines.
  • Drumcondra to Maynooth, with connections at Clonsilla to M3 Parkway. 
  • Drumcondra to Longford (these will run tomorrow, Sunday and Saturday next week only)
  • Connolly to Dundalk
  • Heuston to Portlaoise

Grand Canal Dock to Hazelhatch/Newbridge services in both directions will not service Drumcondra Station from 3.30pm onwards on the concert dates, as part of stadium crowd management measures, according to Irish Rail. 

Mobility-impaired customers are being asked to use Connolly Station for access to and from Croke Park due to lift replacement works at Drumcondra. 

Irish Rail has warned that alcohol is not permitted on any train. 

Dublin Bus has said its full schedule of services will be operating across the following routes: 

  • 1, 11, 13, 16, 33, 40, 40b, 40d, 40e, 41, 41b, 41c, and 44 will serve Drumcondra Road
  • H1, H2, H3, 6, 14, 15, 27, 27a, 27b, 42, 43, 53, 130 will serve North Strand
  • 7 and 7a will serve Mountjoy Square
  • 122 will serve North Circular Road
  • 123 will serve Ballybough

There will be some Dublin Bus diversions in place due to road closures. Full details of these can be viewed on the Dublin Bus website.  

Taxi demand

This expected rise in demand for taxis this weekend comes as there have already been reports in recent months of people in the capital experiencing taxi shortages.

In June, a number of readers shared their experiences of trying to get home after nights out socialising in the city centre, with some stating they waited hours for a taxi, while others decided to just walk home. Some said they had tried to use the public transport options that were available, but these too were full to capacity.

In a statement to The Journal, Bolt Ireland operations manager James Bowpitt noted that the taxi industry has had a difficult time in the last two years. 

“Many drivers have left the industry and, presently, many current drivers prefer working daytime shifts, which is putting pressure on drivers as there is often not enough to meet the demand at peak times,” he said. 

Speaking to The Journal ahead of the gigs about the demand for taxi services, David McGuinness, chairperson of the taxi driver representative organisation Tiomanai Tacsai na hEireann (TTnH) said there is also an issue with a lack of late-night transport services as an alternative to taxis in the city. 

Echoing McGuinness’ and Bowpitt’s concerns, Free Now Ireland said its national taxi fleet has diminished over the past 10 years by 30% and noted that over 2,000 taxis have left Irish roads since the pandemic. 

They said there needs to be a collaborative effort from public transport providers and the National Transport Authority (NTA) to introduce more public transport options which operate both day and night. 

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