Ireland’s passion for country and western music – or “country and culchie,” as Dublin sophisticates dismiss it with the pejorative word for a rural native – has exploded this week across the government and parliament with the news that five sell-out stadium concerts by American country singer Garth Brooks have been cancelled.
Such is the national distress after a local planning dispute led Brooks to abandon the concerts that Enda Kenny, the prime minister or “Taoiseach,” has been forced to rule out the passing of emergency legislation to allow an appeal against the decision by Dublin City Council.
He said passing such legislation would be “coming the heavy” with residents near the 73,000-seat Croke Park stadium, where all five concerts were due to be held. Residents of the inner Dublin residential area blocked city council permission for the concerts out of concern for the pressures which would be caused by an estimated total of 400,000 fans.
When a compromise was offered earlier this week of permission for three concerts, Brooks refused. The country and western singer is reported to be “frustrated” by what has happened.
While the new deputy prime minister, Joan Burton, insists a solution can be found, a spokesman for the White House has told journalists it will not be getting involved in the fiasco: “This is an issue we’ll leave it to Mr. Brooks and the City of Dublin to resolve.”
Dublin’s Lord Mayor has said the Mexican ambassador has offered to mediate. The opposition culture spokesman Timmy Dooley said “The situation was allowed go from fiasco to farce.”
Minister for trade Joe Costello has urged the Taoiseach to ring Brooks directly to plead for a solution to be reached, such is the economic impact on Dublin from the loss of the concerts, which will cause the cancellation of 200,000 hotel rooms and losses of millions of euros in restaurant and pub revenues.
Meanwhile, some of the urban snobs at the State-owned broadcaster RTE have mocked the pain of the culchies by playing the Garth Brooks track “The Dance” over highlights from the World Cup Brazil v Germany match, including images of Brazil fans crying as Brooks sings “And now I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go.”