Event Centre Beyoncé Gig A Credit To Coveney
Next Tuesday will mark the three year “anniversary” of Simon Coveney and Enda Kenny’s famous sod turning ceremony at the event centre on South Main Street.
There was some hullaballoo that nippy February day in 2016 and there was good reason for it. Not only was the decade of bluster about building a proper event centre finally coming to an end, but the Fine Gael-Labour coalition were desperate to be re-elected despite implementing years of austerity following Fianna Fáil’s economic ‘Bertastrophy’. The government needed something big for Cork and, boy, did they deliver.
|10th Feb 2016: Construction due to start in a few weeks, they said. Beyonce will come up the river in a boat, they said. You can have a snackbox at the fountain with Stevie Wonder, they said.|
Anyone who attended the opening concert and witnessed the band of mega-stars that performed a once-off gig together that night will testify how incredible the event centre has been in adding life to an old, historic part of the city centre that has remained unloved for nearly two decades.
Coveney, then Minister for Defence, was doing what many Cork ministers in Dublin governments have done before him – proving to his constituents that, even though he genuflects to Dublin Rule, he’s fighting for Cork. And winning.
He might have been giving severe cutbacks and tax hikes the thumbs up behind closed doors up in Dirty Dublin, but with photo opportunities like the infamous sod turning he was letting us know that, behind all the waffle in Dáil Éireann, he’s really just Cork’s man on the inside working the system for the benefit for the Rebel County. Our ‘pull’ at the big table of pullers.
If you were one of the six thousand Corkonians who packed into the event centre before Christmas to witness a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses and all the members of the Sultan’s of Ping, then you know it was worth putting up with all the long, drawn out never-ending negativity that proceeded the building of this crucial piece of infrastructure.
Those who said it should have been built outside the city and not in the middle of town would have had their minds changed if they saw Beyoncé arrive at the event centre by river boat singing ‘Where’s Me Jumper?’ after being lowered to the Lee from a hovering helicopter outside City Hall.
The extraordinary images were projected on to a big screen in the event centre arena and sent her Cork fans waiting inside into a wild frenzy (and to be honest, with that dress she wore and the wintery gusts hurtling up Sullivan’s Quay she definitely could have done with that jumper - wherever it went to).
|James Curtin from Turner's Cross jumped into Beyoncé's boat from the Boardwalk. This is right before Jay-Z took a swing at him and fell out. Beyoncé lives in Turner's Cross now.|
Who would have thought that two decades after performing their famous, chart topping song across the road in Sir Henry’s that you’d have an American megastar like Beyoncé making lyrics like ‘met him eating mushrooms in the people’s park’ sound like a sweet, soulful Aretha Franklin?
What regular in The Oval would have thought that one day Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses would be sipping a Beamish quietly at the fireside after rocking out at a concert just a short hand pass away? Or what Hillbilly’s diner in their right mind would have thought that one day, they’d see Stevie Wonder and his entourage in the queue for a late night snack box in their favourite eatery?
Simon Coveney, probably.
|Mrs. Beyoncé is looking for her jumper if you spot it around Cork anywhere|
The results speak for themselves and should be a lesson to all of us that we can trust local politicians when they say they will deliver for Cork.
As we watch the pitiful vortex that is Dublin soak up almost all of the country’s budget, it’s good to know that when the rest of the twenty five counties go to gather up the pitiful crumbs from the table left after the Pale pigs out, that those fighting for Cork are punching above their weight.
At least when we hear that Dublin’s cross-city tram cost tax payers €400 million or their Children’s Hospital nearly two billion, that we know Cork is getting the €30 million small change it has been pleading for, for years to knock up a half decent event centre.
Coveney called out the negativity too when he helped Kenny turn that sod. Naysayers, doubters and critics of the government’s commitment to Cork need to fess up. The event centre was delivered on time, on spec and on budget. We don’t know how lucky we are. Simon and his other Dáil colleagues from Cork are the political version of Deliveroo. We call in the order, they bring it to us. Simples.
Sometimes, being in Cork is so unreal, you have to pinch yourself: Did I just see Beyoncé singing in the Lee? Is that really Stevie Wonder tearing into fried chicken at the fountain? Am I in the mens in The Oval, literally, taking a slash next to Slash?
You couldn’t make it up. But just like Enda’s promise three years that construction on the event centre would start “within weeks”, we just did.
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