hooked on brooks | 

Deirdre Reynolds: ‘Never mind the Queen... it’s farewell to King “Gareth” ’

After eight long years, five packed-out concerts, 400,000 screaming fans and numberless Stetsons, Garth Brooks has finally pulled off his “drive for five" at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Country music star Garth Brooks at Croke Park. Pic: Brian Lawless/PA Wire© PA

Garth Brooks speaking to media ahead of his upcoming concerts at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos© Gareth Chaney

Garth Brooks downing the pint he pulled in Dick Macks. Photo by Mary Declan O'Neill

Deirdre ReynoldsSunday World

As Britain waves its long goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II, here in Ireland, the ghost of Garthgate was finally laid to rest on Saturday night.

After eight long years, five packed-out concerts, 400,000 screaming fans and numberless Stetsons, Garth Brooks has finally pulled off his “drive for five" at Dublin’s Croke Park.

Anyone jeering at the images of our near neighbours queuing for up to 24 hours to see the late monarch lying in state in Westminster Hall clearly didn’t see the procession on Clonliffe Road for the King of Country over the past two weeks.

Garth Brooks speaking to media ahead of his upcoming concerts at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos© Gareth Chaney

Unanswered Prayers, Callin’ Baton Rouge, Friends in Low Places, The River – no hit was too old, too obvious, too cheesy for the 60-year-old to thrill his Irish fans, myself included, with the singer even taking requests from the crowd as the stage lit up in green, white and gold and shimmering confetti rained from an improbably clear sky.

By night five, even the ‘bogrudgers’, who this time last year claimed they wouldn’t go to see the Oklahoma crooner if he played their back garden, were clamouring for tickets for the sold-out stadium tour, which was being filmed for an upcoming Netflix documentary.

Spare a thought for the nearby residents who didn’t have much choice in the matter.

Garth Brooks downing the pint he pulled in Dick Macks. Photo by Mary Declan O'Neill

As the culchie-ral appropriation reached fever pitch this weekend, including the flogging of pink cowboy hats for a tenner outside the home of the GAA, the father-of-three was being hailed as a deity in double denim by the snootiest of music reviewers here – when ironically it’s his ‘Everyman’ aura that has helped him to make history at Croker.

While Abba aren’t even present at their virtual Voyage concert continuing in London, Garth and fellow country music star wife Trisha Yearwood were absolutely bloody everywhere, strolling around Glendalough in Wicklow, rubbing shoulders with the Munster rugby squad in Limerick and enjoying pints in a pub in Dingle, stopping for selfies and sing-songs along the way.

Anyway, if the Grammy winner needed any help squeaking out one more tear as he professed his undying love for Ireland for the last time while swaddled in a tricolour on stage last night, he only had to rewatch the viral footage of a group of fans singing The Dance after he paid a surprise visit to a Dublin playground.

If he can ‘gee-shucks’ his way through that, the man deserves an Oscar too.

Wrapping up just after 10pm with a medley of Elton John and Billy Joel classics, it was less a case of !ain’t goin’ down ’til the sun comes up” than “ain’t goin’ down ’til the city council curfew” for the superstar, who last played the venue in 1997.

If the UK can get a bank holiday, as the stage’s giant ‘G’ comes down and the couple jet back home to Nashville, surely we deserve a national day of mourning too?

In the quintessentially Irish words of one concert-goer as the curtain fell at Croker: ‘Play one more, ya c***!’

No doubt our beloved ‘Gareth’ will soon...


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