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30 years ago Ireland was rocking out for the unemployed

The benefit concert was to raise funds and create jobs for the unemployed in the country.

THIRTY YEARS AGO, unemployment was a major problem in Ireland.

With around a quarter of a million unemployed in the country, Irish musicians decided do something to raise awareness, and held a charity concert for 30,000 people on 17 May 1986.

With a nod to Live Aid, they put on Self Aid in order to raise funds and create jobs for the unemployed in Ireland.

self-aid-poster-twitter-3 Source: Daily Edge

Live Aid had been a hugely successful global phenomenon, and organiser Bob Geldof was inspired by it to hold another event in the RDS in Dublin.

Self Aid took place 10 months after the Live Aid concert and 18 months after the Band Aid single was released.

The concert was headlined by the Boomtown Rats, and there was a great line up of other Irish performers on the night, including U2, Van Morrison, Christy Moore, Rory Gallagher and the Pogues.

Speaking to the audience on the night, Bono said:

This country belongs to you just as much as it belongs to RTÉ just as much as it belongs to CIE or ESB or AIB or the Bank of Ireland. And if you work for ANCO or if you work for Manpower. If you are paid by the people you better look after those people. So treat them nice on Monday morning.

Final list RTE archives Source: RTÉ Archives

Thin Lizzy also played on the night with Gary Moore on vocals.

Tributes were paid to the band’s lead singer, Phil Lynott, who had died just four months previously.

Tickets cost £15 for the concert, and there was a subsequent album, Live for Ireland that many of the performers recorded.

download Source: Eamonn Farrell

The concert’s aim was to highlight the unemployment rates in the country, as there were over 250,000 people unemployed in Ireland at the time.

A telethon in RTÉ studios occurred on the same day as the concert. Presenters and celebrities manned the phones, taking pledges for jobs and donations for the cause.

All profits from the concert, the accompanying album and the telethon went to the Self Aid Trust.

RTE Archives Source: RTÉ Archives

Boom Town Rats RTE Archives The Boomtown Rats at Self Aid 1986 Source: RTÉ Archives

One of the big acts of the night were U2, who were introduced on stage by RTÉ’s Dave Fanning.

Dave Fanning Source: Dave Fanning Self Aid

The concert marked the final performance of the Boomtown Rats, with frontman Bob Geldof, saying to the crowd:

It’s been a very good 10 years. Thank you very much. Rest in peace.

The band reunited 27 years later in 2013.

Today, Twitter users have been sharing their memories of the benefit gig three decades ago.


RTÉ made a documentary of behind the scenes at Self Aid, which was broadcast in December 1986.

Here's one of the famous scenes from it, where Bono ran backstage during his set to drink a bottle of cider with some fans:

Source: Broadsheet Ie/YouTube

Read: The 21 most eighties Irish things ever > 

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