By Kevin Blessing
It’s twenty years ago this August Bank holiday weekend since I first boarded the bus in Carrick-on-Shannon for the ‘Trip to Tipp’ Feile 1992. Thanks to Michael Lowry, TD, we had Feile in Semple Stadium Thurles - he was the one that convinced the locals of Thurles to give the go ahead to this wonderful festival. Semple Stadium had huge debts to pay off at that time and some sort of a payment from MCD (the Feile festival organisers) went a long way to paying it off.
The bus was packed with friends of mine from Drumshanbo, Kiltubrid, Cootehall, Knockvicar and Carrick-on-Shannon. I was a concert virgin, never mind a first-time camper and festival goer, as I boarded the bus in Carrick-on-Shannon.
The trip down to Tipp seemed as long then as a flight to Dubai is now, possibly helped in no way by my eagerness to get our tent pitched.
Over four hours later, we arrived at our destination, Thurles Town. With our tickets, back packs, and tents in check, we queued up in an orderly fashion to exchange our tickets through the ticket office window, in exchange for our wristbands that would entitle us to campsite residency for the weekend and admission to all the gigs.
We again had to queue up to get into the campsite and once through security we had found our patch of grass that would provide the foundation for our tent for the weekend. Having pitched our tent in no time, we headed to the stadium for the start of Feile!
Walking out onto the pitch in Semple Stadium was a great buzz for me, I felt honoured as I was standing on the same ground which had hosted the centenary All Ireland hurling final of 1984 between Cork and Offaly, with the Rebels being crowned All-Ireland champions.
Numerous acts took to the stage on the opening night, memorable highlights from that night included performances from bands such as ‘The Wonder Stuff’, ‘James’; ‘Beautiful South; ‘Primal Scream’, and ‘Carter USM’. As we made our way back to the campsite, we were all happy with our first night at Feile.
Day two started off with Paul, Fiachra, Conor, Manus and I heading into Thurles in search of a breakfast that would set us up for the day’s gigs.
We came across a butcher shop that had been converted into a restaurant for the weekend, and had all agreed that it would be worth having the breakfast there, just for the sheer amusement of being able to say we had brekkie in a Butcher Shop in the middle of Thurles.
It was a mighty feed, and as we finished, one of the lads, who shall remain nameless, decided to check out the Butcher Shop bathroom facilities.
The woman who had served us had spotted that this Festival reveller had got up from the table and she immediately went in search of him. She soon realised as she opened the bathroom door that he was using her toilet facility and as a result she took the key to the door out of her pocket locked him in and started roaring ‘a pound for a poo’ ‘a pound for a poo’!
In order for my friend to be let out from the toilet, he had to pass a pound coin under the door; in fact, such was her disgust she made him pass two pound coins under the door before letting him out. The rest of us at the table were in stitches as all this was taking place, what a way to spend breakfast time! And I still wonder to this day was this where the apprentice idea of toilet charges was introduced!
As we headed for the stadium, Irish band ‘The Pale’ were first on stage, followed by ‘Therapy’; ‘A-House’; ‘Luka Bloom’; ‘Teenage Fan Club’; ‘EMF’ and David Byrne, former front man with ‘The Talking Heads’ who had the place rocking! At this stage, I was exhausted and headed for the tent as day two had taken its toll.
Day three was the ultimate highlight of my weekend, and as the rain poured down in Semple Stadium, ‘Christy Moore’ took to the stage. Christy wasn’t going to let the weather upstage his performance, as the pyramids of people popped up around the pitch, Christy did what Christy does best, storytelling to the masses of people through song.
We decided to lift the covering under our feet which was protecting the pitch’s surface, to cover us from the rain. I couldn‘t imagine doing the same nowadays at such high profile venues such as Croke Park or The RDS without being ejected from the gig.
As ‘The Stunning’ brought the curtain down on Feile 1992 with their hit, ‘Brewing up a Storm’; to say we were damp would have been an understatement; we were saturated. Needless to say, our sleeping bags and tents were not much drier; however nothing could really dampen our spirits.
There are numerous types of festivals in the world, but none in my estimation have quite surpassed the ‘Trip To Tipp’ of the August Bank Holiday weekend of 1992.
20 years ago ...............