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Some 14 years after their first performance at Slane Castle, Oasis are looking forward to a triumphant return to the Banks of The Boyne next Saturday where they will perform before a crowd in excess of 80,000.
For the eighth Marquis Conyngham (formerly Lord Henry Mountcharles), this will be a very special concert and a real local and family affair.
The Marquis (who inherited his title this year on the death of his father) will be joined by a large family circle but, most importantly, by his first grandchild, sixth-month-old Laragh, daughter of his son, Alex (now Lord Mountcharles) and his wife, Carina.
The Marquis, who still wants to be called Henry Mountcharles, and his wife, Iona, will be joined by a large family circle, godchildren and friends for the occasion. He said it will be an even bigger family affair for another local family – the Gallaghers.
Oasis frontmen Noel and Liam Gallagher have their roots in Duleek where their father, Thomas, grew up and where they spent many holidays as children. Thomas Gallagher’s family still live in Duleek and, at the press conference last year at which the concert was announced, Noel Gallagher recalled that the last time they played Slane, they had about 80 relatives in the audience. “But now they’ve grown up and have their own children, so there will be even more there on 20th June,” he said.
Mountcharles realls his first time to see Oasis live was in Manhattan. “I went to see them with Iona and Adam Clayton and was very impressed by them. There were only about 1,000 people at the show, but they put on a fantastic peformance.
“They were wonderful in Slane in 1995 when they supported REM and I have wanted them to headline Slane for a good number of years,” he said. “The fact that Noel came here in person for the press launch shows just how important this gig is on their tour. It is very much in the rock ’n’ roll tradition of Slane and the fact that Oasis has such local roots really appeals to me and to a lot of people.”
There has been an incredible amount of interest in this gig, but this isn’t unusual; Slane has featured in the Boston Globe, LA Times and the New York Times in the past and the Springsteen concert in 1985 featured on network television news in the US.
“DVDs of U2 and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers performing in Slane enjoyed phenomenal global sales and there are countless images of the Slane rock concerts on YouTube.
”Slane is not a conventional venue, it is not like a stadium, it has a different feel and the acts and performers like that. The history and nature of the venue, combined with the calibre of the acts, are what makes it so popular,” he said.
Preparation for this year’s concert, which also features The Blizzards, Glasvegas, Kasabian and The Prodigy, have been underway for some time but activity at Slane Castle has intensified in the past week or two.
For instance, last Wednesday there were hundreds of people on the concert site, erecting barriers and fencing, putting in a new roadway to improve crowd safety, upgrading existing roads and erecting marquees.
“We also have a lot of people involved in administration and co-ordination and handling media enquiries,” Mountcharles says. “We have been at it so long that everybody seems to know what they have to do.” He admitted the preperations would become more feverish as the day gets closer.
He also is very conscious of the disruption the concert causes in the local community and says they do everything they can to keep it to a minimum. “We didn’t have a show last year and people missed it. It brings life and economic activity to the village,” he said, pointing out that it also benefits business in Drogheda, Navan, Ashbourne and further afield.
“It doesn’t just benefit the area on the day of the concert. It heightens interest in the area,” he said.
Tragedy has stalked the concert in the past, particularly as a number of people have lost their lives in the Boyne at past concerts. Mountcharles said a river rescue operation, monitored by the Irish Coastguard, will be in place to prevent people from getting into the river.
“The Boyne is a beautiful river to look at but it is not for plunging into. I want to warn people to keep away from the river. It may look calm and placid but it is dangerous and it is not clever to go into it,” he said.
Mountcharles is already in negotiations for next year’s concert but, as usual, is remaining tightlipped about possible acts for that gig. He is also looking at other events for the castle. Apart from rock concerts and corporate events, weddings and other special events are held there regularly.
The Slane peer is really looking forward to the weekend and expects he will be absolutely “knackered” on Monday but feels, once again, it will be well worth it. He is urging concert-goers to respect the residents of Slane. “I need their support for the shows. So please follow directions from the Gardai and the road signage. Enjoy the show, but don’t spoil the day for anyone else,” he said.