With the Harry Styles show fast approaching we decided to enlighten readers what Slane gigs were like back in the day.

When the idea of a Thin Lizzy concert was first mooted back in 1981 the local reaction was, ‘What deaf huck is this all about’, followed by the thought, ‘Sure it’ll be a bit of craic’, and it certainly was.

To show you how laid back that first gig was the local GAA club was scheduled to play Bohermeen Martry Harps in an IFC quarter final the same day as Phillo and the boys kicked off the Slane shows.

One of the stalwarts of the Slane defence was a guard in the village, a certain Pat Farrelly now linked to the Na Fianna club, and he got the day off to play the match and go to the concert afterwards.

That was also the year when Joe, ‘Mahogany’, Maher and his dad Pat were assigned the task of manning the doors in Slane House with the strict instruction, ‘Nobody brings any six packs into the place’.

The intrepid Mahogany men took this at face value and anyone attempting to enter with a six pack duly had two confiscated which were road tested by the Mahogany’s before entry was permitted.

They could truthfully say to the somewhat confused owner nobody got in with a six pack.

Hazel O’ Connor was the support act and recalls security being so lax she had to walk through the crowds and had to shoo away a fan who wanted to get up close and personal in the caravan which doubled up as her dressing room.

Slane settled down again in the aftermath as the villagers believed this was an enjoyable interlude but also a one off.

Henry Mountcharles had other ideas and thank God for that.

Slane, indeed the nation was stunned when ‘Mounty’ announced the next show would be headlined by the Rolling Stones.

This was the introduction to the big time and also the introduction to flagons of cider which had been re christened Jagger Juice by one local publican.

It was also the year when somebody borrowed a horse from a field, trotted it past astonished Mahogany’s, who somehow got the security slot again, rode it around the lounge in Slane House and left it back where they got it.

That year too saw a worker who was erecting the Stones stage receive some rough justice when he made several attempts to steal a six pack and despite being warned/advised/TOLD to stop didn’t do so.

In fairness it was only when he tried to decapitate the barman with said six pack that justice was administered.

It was a sign of the madness to come.

Back then access to the village was easy, every house sold tea and sandwiches or utilised their garden as a car park, but that easy going way of things was soon to change.

For reasons which escape us Slane ’83 didn’t take place in Slane at all but in the Phoenix Park but the following year things changed forever.

Ironically a peace loving hippy, Bob Dylan, was the main attraction in 1984 when a riot of enormous proportions broke out.

The catalyst was the arrest of a young man from Leixlip for kicking a Garda car and waving a knife about.

His sister decided that she would much prefer he hadn’t been nicked and proceeded to the Garda station to make that point.

When her argument was rebuffed she stormed out and encountered a Garda reporting for his shift and decided to put the rock in rock concert by hurling a rock through the cops car windscreen.

He promptly grabbed hold of her and all hell broke loose.

Nearly forty years on those of us there on the night can look back and laugh but the reality for the guards trapped in the station as rocks rained down on them and a patrol car was set on fire was a terrifying one.

A fire brigade crew arrived to tackle the blaze and also came under attack that is until the late Waller Shiels emerged from a fire truck swinging a large axe which saw him and his fellow firemen able to go about their business.

One brave guard opted for a baton charge from the station and moved the crowd of rioters a few hundred yards up the road to the Protestant church, where at precisely the same moment both he and the rioters realised he was a one man Garda band as nobody else had come to back him up.

He showed a fleetness of foot that just saw him make it to the safety of the station before the angry mob caught him.

Almost uniquely in Irish society that night saw Gardai beating people back in the doors of pubs rather than trying to get them out of them.

Years later a cop confided in this writer that when the call went out for members to come and assist the riot squad they were told not to head for the besieged station but to assemble on the top of Gallows Hill on the Drogheda road.

He recalled, ‘ We were told to charge down the village and clear everything in front of us on reflection we succeeded!’.

The riots took place between Saturday night and Sunday morning and on the Monday three locals were offered a free days drink by a local publican.

When they asked what the catch was they were informed that the insurance assessor was due later that day to inspect the premises and that the toilets had survived the riot.

A free days drink duly followed a quick visit to the loos.

………………….TO BE CONTINUED