‘Slane’ is on today. I’m not going, unlike the rest of the country. I’ve a big application form to get stuck into. Although it’s for a music project, that doesn’t sound like a rock-and-rock excuse. If I was in my Mam’s in Meath, there’s a good chance that I’d get an itch and try to find a ticket. But the rain falling against my window in Kildare, dampens any such notions, even though I was a big Guns N’ Roses fan as a kid. ‘Appetite for Destruction’ was one of the first albums that I got on tape. My lovely nordie aunt Moira bought it for me. Between my mother and my aunt, they got confused with my request and it appears that Moira asked the long-haired young fella in the record shop for ‘’Guns ‘N’ Daisies.’’ Oh, how they laughed.
Just knowing that Slane is on, fills me with nostalgia. The castle set in the big field that doubles as a natural amphitheatre, along the River Boyne. This pretty little village transformed for just one day.
It’s my aunt Olive, my father’s sister, in the ‘old kitchen’, in 1985 on her way to see Bruce Springsteen. She’s wearing a bright blue jumpsuit, as only she could, with her long blonde hair. Eleven-year-old me sits quietly and admires her style. As she stands there with her hands in her pockets, laughing, she is unaware that I am watching. I don’t have the word for it then, but she looks so confident. None of us in the knowledge then that she would die so young and that Moira to follow just months later - The screech from my mother as I share the news from the phone call, standing in the middle of the farm yard.
It’s Lord Henry Mount Charles on the Late Late Show. He sounds too posh to live just the road from our house. He takes all of the hob-nobbing with music royalty in his stride.
Impeccably dressed, but wearing odd socks.
On the telly.
It’s seeing his distress on TV after the 1991 fire at the Castle.
It’s the post fire Guns N’Roses concert in Slane that I go to with my new-on-the-scene boyfriend. He’s a biker and musician, a beautiful Jesus lookalike, with better hair than me. He’s more of a heavy metal fan and tuts at the idea of being here. It’s the first time I took a day off from my Saturday job and my boss isn’t best pleased. The sun beats down and I get spectacularly sunburned, but only down one side of my face – nowhere to hide in this big field. We meet Jesus’s friends, one more uber-cool than the next, who similarly tut about being here. I am totally morto at my tomato face, but the bikers seem too cool to notice. The skin on my face peels for weeks afterwards. Any wonder then, that I turn into the ‘Have you got your sun screen on?’ Mammy type figure at other concerts I’ve been too, slathering unsuspecting young lads in cream.
I eventually make it back to Slane for Bon Jovi in 2013, only because my friend Maria gives me two tickets. Conveniently, my cousins who are coach operators, are bringing bus loads to the concert. The bus is full of neighbours and relations. I hate queueing at concerts for a drink, so decide to do my drinking before we get inside the grounds. Seems like everyone else has the same idea. The Nurse’s bra is full of silicone-like pouches, substituting the intended medical liquid with alcohol. I admire her Festival Fitness, as well as her impressive cleavage.
We get inside the gates and my cousin who had said ‘Stay with me Lucy and you will be grand’, disappears within minutes and turns up the following day missing his jacket. Truth be told, the concert is all a bit blurry, but maybe that’s how best to watch one of your childhood heart throbs after all these years. Jon Bon is looking well all the same, but the music is pure cheese. I’m tutting but singing along … wooo…. Ooooh …. Livin’ on a pray ……. yer….