Country music fans across the island of Ireland and beyond were awake from ‘silly o’clock’ on Thursday morning to ensure their entries to one (and sometimes more) of Garth Brooks’ Croke Park shows next September.
Brooks will be making his 2022 stadium return to Dublin for the first time in 25 years.
Initially announcing only two nights for Croke Park on September 9 and 10, he confirmed an extra three shows (September 11, 16 and 17) as the online queue reached more than 400,000 when the tickets went on sale.
Co Armagh superfan Sinead O’Neill was ecstatic to purchase tickets for two nights — the first Friday and final Saturday — which she sees as good compensation for her heartbreak when Brooks cancelled his five-night Croke Park run back in 2014, following the city council’s rejection of plans for two of his shows amid resistance from local residents.
The Oklahoman said then he would perform all five or none at all.
“I queued for tickets overnight in 2014 and in the end got them for three nights then,” said Sinead.
“If it wasn’t on the mouth of Christmas now I would've got more! My husband Paul has limited me to two nights. He’s into heavy rock and metal music, he has no interest in going at all but he’s coming with me the second night, God love him.”
The Granemore woman will head to Brooks’ opening concert with her father and her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie.
Despite Ellie’s musical taste becoming a bit more eclectic in her teenage years, her mother said she still has a soft spot for Brooks, and that she was “obsessed” with him as a child.
“His songs mean so much to me and I equate them to things that have happened at different times of my life,” Sinead continued.
“Ellie had open heart surgery a couple of times as a child and we had to play Garth Brooks constantly on repeat for her. That was when he released his greatest hits CD with the DVD.
“Country music is almost like a religion in Ireland. There’s been a real turn towards it again now, even with young people. It’s a new wave. I have cousins who go to all the dances in the likes of the Moy and they’re all into jiving again, whereas when I was growing up, people were sort of like, ‘Who do you like, Garth Brooks?’”
Co Tyrone jiving enthusiast Niall Gormley also queued online for an hour and a half, even though his mum had already bagged him a ticket that morning, as well as five others.
“We were both waiting and she got us sorted, but my cousin texted me and said she was so far behind in the queue, behind like 17,000 people, so I got two for her.
“Anyone that I know that wanted them seems to have gotten them, because he’s got the five dates out now.”
His mum also had tickets for Brooks' 2014 appearances, so the whole family is excited to be back on track for a night of singing and line dancing.
“I can’t wait for Callin’ Baton Rouge,” Niall added. “It’ll be a great buzz, he’s doing five nights again so it’s obviously a big deal. It’ll be great for the country.”
The 28-year-old said he’s been a Brooks fan for the last 15 years, joking: “He’s no Philomena Begley [a fellow Co Tyrone country star], but he’s the next best thing!”
And from further afield, American man Nick Miller was one of the first online for tickets
“It took about three hours, but I was able to snag up tickets to each of the first three shows,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I’ve never been out of the country before, so I wanted my first time to be epic, and you can’t get more epic than Garth Brooks at Croke Park. I can’t wait to see it and the lovely Ireland.”
The 38-year-old will be travelling to Dublin from his native Ohio, and said he would be surprised if supporters didn’t get tickets if they tried, as there were still plenty for sale by Thursday afternoon for all the dates and he was able to secure some from the US.
The tickets are priced the same as they were for the Friends in Low Places singer’s shows seven years ago, but unlike then, fans can no longer purchase tickets in store, as Ticketmaster has moved all its business onto its digital platform.
Brooks has become the No.1 selling solo artist in US history, certified by the RIAA with 157 million album sales.