18th July, 2002
Notice Board


GUMBALL 3000


Fasten your seatbelts, start up your engines,
you are about to taken on the ride of your life…….

by Frances Murphy
Launched in 1999 by Maximillion Cooper, ‘Gumball 3000’ has fast gained a reputation as being Europe’s most notorious and high profile event. Inspired by the liberating and infamous ‘Gumball Rally’ and ‘Cannonball Run ‘ films of the 70’s, ‘Gumball 3000’ recreated the spirit and the fun of those classics by bringing together the worlds of film, fashion, music, sport and business, for a 6-day ‘3000’ mile rally, punctuated by the wildest parties.
Last year the US watched MTV:s Johnny Knoxville and crew party with film stars, millionaires, rock stars, racing drivers, and Europe’s most eccentric aristocrats, on the ‘Gumball 3000’ rally from London to Russia and back, in just 6 days of ‘Wacky Races’ madness. This year the Gumball was in the USA on April 30th and two Corkmen took on the challenge from New York to L.A. they are Pat Crowley of Crowley’s Decking, Ballincollig and Tom O’Connor of the Reel Cinema in Ballincollig. Many of you may know Tom as the guy who built the Cinema in Douglas. I had the pleasure of meeting these Guys through my job at The Douglas Weekly. Tom is a very charismatic character. He is very down to earth and very interesting to listen to.
He told me that the amount of money that the people they met had was unbelievable. One chap’s Ferrari blew up on the second day and he had another new one flown in straight away. Another chap got 18,000 dollars in speeding fines and was going to be jailed after the race. Tom was the sober one for the whole event while Pat and his wife Ann enjoyed the parties to the full. Pat is a very nice guy who works hard and plays hard. They both agreed that it was the event of a lifetime.
What began as a 'private party for 50 of Maximillion’s closest friends, just kind of grew'', and after 3 years 'Gumball 3000' is proving to be the most legendary car event ever!
Starting in NY the event took 6 days to reach LA, with parties and checkpoints each day at some of America's most amazing landmarks.
From the Plaza Hotel in NY to Union Station in DC, onto Opryland Nashville, lunch in Elvis Presley's Graceland, dinner in Dallas' Crescent Court, a night of relaxation at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo and 'pit-stopping' at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The event finally came to a halt after 3000 miles at the renaissance Hollywood Hotel with the finish party that evening hosted by Hugh Hefner at the legendary Playboy Mansion, bunny girls et al. There were 200 cars entered including 85 Ferrari's, numerous 60's and 70's ,Muscle cars, 50s corvettes, Aston Martin's, Lamborghini's, Bentley's, and Porsche's, along with a 'Blues Brothers' Police car, old E-types, 3 Union Jack painted Mini's, the Kiss car, and even Donna Karan in a Dkny checkered Taxi.
Media for the event was phenomenal, as apart from being made into a film, it was featured live each day on news channels all around the world.. Including live coverage each day on our own Gerry Ryan show on 2 FM. The film will reach screens in late Summer, followed by a DVD, music soundtrack, as well as a 'Gumball 3000' Sony Playstation 2 computer game. Following this year's event they auctioned memorabilia from the rally to raise money for the 'Twin Towers' fund.


U.S.S. INDIANAPOLIS - SHIP OF COURAGE

by George Thompson

“I just can’t believe you found us! You found us! You found us!.” The words of a young Marine, Giles McCoy, on being rescued from the Pacific Ocean, 5 days after his ship had gone down. On July 30th, 1945 the U.S.S. Indianapolis with a crew of 1196 was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. It took just 12 minutes for the ship to slip beneath the surface of the pacific. The immediate aftermath is a story of fiasco, injustice, bravery and courage at its highest. Of those 1196 souls, 900 made it off the doomed ship, many of these sailors died from their injuries, others died from repeated shark attacks while more still gave up in desperation, suffering from dementia, the searing sun and lack of drinking water, some just untied their life vests and like their ship slipped beneath the waves, some of these boys just fell asleep through sheer exhaustion and drowned.

During a preinvasion bombardment of Okinawa in March of 1945, Indianapolis was the victim of a Kamakaze attack but sustained limited damage and just three casualties. Under her own steam, the cruiser made it back stateside and to Mare Island Navy Yard near San Francisco.
After repairs and overhaul, Indianapolis received orders to proceed at high speed to Tinian Island, carrying parts and nuclear material to be used in the atomic bombs which were soon to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Due to the urgency of her mission, Indianapolis departed San Francisco, sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge for the last time on 15th of July, foregoing her post repair shakedown period. Touching at Pearl Harbor 19 July, she raced on unescorted and arrived Tinian on July 26th, having set a record in covering some 5000 miles from San Francisco in only 10 days.
After delivering her top-secret cargo at Tinian, Indianapolis was dispatched to Guam where she disembarked men and reported for onward routine to Leyte. From there she was to report to Vice Adm. Jesse B. Oldendorf for further duty off Okinawa. Departing Guam 28 July, Indianapolis proceeded by a direct route, unescorted.
At 14 minutes past midnight, on 30 July 1945, midway between Guam and Leyte Gulf, she was hit by two torpedoes out of six initiated by the I-58 a Japanese submarine, Commander Machitsura Hashimoto in command. The first blew away the bow, the second struck near midship on the starboard side adjacent to a fuel tank and a powder magazine. The resulting explosion split the ship to the keel, knocking out all electric power. Within twelve minutes she went down rapidly by the bow, rolling to starboard and slipped beneath the Pacific at 1202' N., 13448' E. The seas had been moderate; the visibility, good; Indianapolis had been steaming at 17 knots. When the ship did not reach Leyte on the 31st, as scheduled, no report was made that she was overdue. This omission was due to a misunderstanding of the Movement Report System.
Of the 1,196 aboard, about 900 made it into the water in the twelve minutes before she sank. Few life rafts were released. Most survivors wore the standard kapok life jacket. Some survivors clung to floating debris. In the rush to put to sea such things as survival rations which were to be packed into life rafts were overlooked. These survival rations included fresh water, biscuits, fishing line & hooks

and mirrors for reflecting the sun and attracting help. In the first few hours individuals and small groups swam aimlessly in the darkness until they eventually made up four main groups. One of these groups numbered a few hundred including the ships Doctor, Doctor Haynes, a Marine Officer, Captain Parke and the ships Chaplain, Father Conway. The bravery of these three men is described in the book, “In Harm’s Way” by Doug Stanton.
Captain Parke maintained discipline in the group while encouraging the boys to help one another and raise moral in hope of rescue, he would swim amongst the men and tirelessly encourage the survivors to hang on in. Father Conway also swam tirelessly among the group giving last rites to the dead and dying while hearing confessions from all denominations, he would hold a dying sailor until he passed away and in a dignified way undo the life vest and allow the deceased to slip beneath the waves.
All those in the water were covered in oil from the oil slick the Indy gave off before sinking. This probably saved a lot of lives as it protected the men from the baking heat of the sun during daylight hours.
On the morning after the sinking the shark attacks began and those at the outer edges of the groups or those demented souls who would swim off to try nd make it on their own, were the main victims. As the days passed spirits began to wane and some of those who were too weak to go would just undo their life jackets and sink to their deaths. Others began to hallucinate that they could see the Indianapolis beneath them and spoke of returning to the ship for a cool drink and would encourage others to join them in swimming to their deaths.
Shortly after 11:00 A.M. of the fourth day, the survivors were accidentally discovered by LT. (jg) Wilbur C. Gwinn, piloting his PV-1 Ventura Bomber on routine antisubmarine patrol. Radioing his base at Peleiu, he alerted, "many men in the water". A PBY (seaplane) under the command of LT. R. Adrian Marks was dispatched to lend assistance and report. Enroute to the scene Marks overflew the destroyer USS Cecil Doyle (DD-368), and alerted her captain, of the emergency. The captain of the Doyle, on his own authority, decided to divert to the scene. Arriving hours ahead of the Doyle, Marks' crew began dropping rubber rafts and supplies. While so engaged, they observed men being attacked by sharks. Disregarding standing orders not to land at sea, Marks landed, and began taxiing to pick up the stragglers and lone swimmers who were at greatest risk of shark attack. Learning the men were the crew of the Indianapolis, he radioed the news, requesting immediate assistance. The Doyle responded she was enroute.
As complete darkness fell, Marks waited for help to arrive, all the while continuing to seek out and pull nearly dead men from the water. When the plane's fuselage was full, survivors were tied to the wing with parachute cord. Marks and his crew rescued 56 men that day. The Cecil Doyle was the first vessel on the scene. Homing on Marks' PBY in total darkness, the Doyle halted to avoid killing or further injuring survivors, and began taking Marks' survivors aboard.
Disregarding the safety of his own vessel, the Doyle's captain pointed his largest searchlight into the night sky to serve as a beacon for other rescue vessels. This beacon was the first indication to most survivors, that their prayers had been answered. Help had at last arrived. Of the 900 who made it into the water only 317 remained alive. After almost five days of constant shark attacks, starvation, terrible thirst, suffering from exposure and their wounds, the men of the Indianapolis were at last rescued from the sea.

Writers Note :- The Naval community is very unique and close knit - it’s the same the world over. When tragedy strikes it affects everyone, from the highest rank to the lowest. During my thirteen year career with our own Naval Service, I had the honour of serving with some of the bravest and professional people who did the Service and their Country proud. Two friends in particular gave their lives while others received the Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M.) for deeds of bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
In the case of the USS Indianapolis, anyone who has anything to do with the sea can relate to the story of survival. For those who are not of the seafaring community, the USS Indianapolis Story should be one of inspiration.
Fifty seven years on, the USS Indianapolis Story has not reached its conclusion but the survivors still battle on. Their survival and bravery has affected my life forever through the book, ‘In Harm’s Way’ by Doug Stanton, which tells of the final voyage of the Indianapolis, its sinking and the heart breaking accounts of the survivors.
To the crew of the Indianapolis, those lost and those who survived - I salute you.
George Thompson.


ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR?
BY AOIFE BARRY

You get what you pay for. Or at least, that is how the old saying goes, a saying that seems strangely redundant in today’s world when money rules all and cash often comes before customer service. When it comes to public transport, like the trains that thousands of us use each day, it is not wrong to expect value for your money – a comfortable seat, some small snacks and beverages available, a place to put your luggage. When you are shelling out thirty or forty euro for a three-hour train journey, you expect to get what you paid for.
So why are we so often let down when it comes to something as simple as getting a seat on a train to, say, Dublin? Why do we often accept sub-standard service, rude workers, bad management and poorly maintained toilet facilities? Do we really think that it is right to travel for three hours standing up in the area in-between carriages, with other passengers who paid for a seat but, due to bad planning, never got one?
As recently as two weeks ago I saw for myself the effects of over-crowding on trains. On a simple Heuston-Cork journey, there were at least ten people standing in each carriage junction ( the point where two carriages meet), including a mother and her very young child who were forced to sit on their luggage at the end of the business-class carriage - right next to the toilets (hardly a safe place for a child in any case). Passengers had to get out of the train onto the platform at every stop when a passenger got on or off, because they were blocking the door. The dining cart was unable to reach anyone on the train because of the over-crowding. I also witnessed two women in the business-class who were not willing to sacrifice the two seats beside them because, and I quote one of them, they didn’t “want to share [their] seat with anyone!” But perhaps other people’s selfishness and greed is best left aside for the moment.
Am I the only one who finds this situation completely ridiculous? Surely, whoever made the decision not to put on another carriage on the train and leave dozens of people standing should be accountable? By the time I discovered myself that so many people were without seats on the train, it was too late for me personally to do anything, but I wonder what sort of response I would have gotten if I had jumped off the train, as one young man did, and complained. Silence, it seems, is too often golden.
To further add fuel to fire, when I was taking the train up to Dublin on the 13th of August to attend the Witnness festival, my friends and I arrived early to ensure we would get a seat on the 7:05am train, and not the 7:20am train, which would delay us. At 6:30am, the platform was opened and the long trail of students who were attending the festival (for at that time there were little, if any, people at the station who did not look as though they were going to Witnness), gathered at the gate to have our tickets checked. We were almost immediately let on board the train, and we were confident that soon we would be on the way to Dublin at 7.05am. However, as time passed, it soon became apparent that, in fact, though we were the first people on the train, the train we had been shunted onto was, in fact, the 7:20am train, and the train beside us was leaving at 7.05am! We had had no explanation given to us, no reason why on earth those who looked under 25 and who carried rucksacks were put on a later train - even though we had been at the train station first!
All this didn’t seem too perturbing until a friend who had decided to return to Cork, after the festival, early on Monday afternoon, told me that almost the exact same situation had taken place again. Two trains were due to leave for Cork at approximately 1pm and 1:20 pm respectively. When my friend, who was wearing three coloured wristbands indicative of the fact she had been at Witnness, approached the man at the gate to the first platform to have her ticket checked, she was told to make her way to the fifth platform instead as she could board the Cork train there. When she questioned the man about why she was being told to go this platform, and hence get a later train, [at this point it was not yet 12:45], she was told she ‘had to’. Intent on getting an answer as to why she and other Witnness attendees were being put on another train, as she watched other ‘respectable’ passengers being allowed board the earlier train, and being moved from the queue she was in to the other platform, she asked various train station workers but got no response. To top it all off, the train they were made board (which was full of students) did not have a dining car and was an old train with basic facilities. In this day and age, such segregation is not only unacceptable, but is plain stupid. Maybe someone can give us a full reason for this, as we were most definitely not given one at the time.
In short, I feel that it is up to us, the public, to complain if we feel we have been given shoddy service or been treated shabbily on public transport systems. Although, it does seem as though when we do complain, as did my friend, politely and firmly, we are given no answer. Perhaps if she had been twenty years older, and wearing a suit, she would have been treated differently. Maybe we feel that if we do complain, it would look badly for us to be seen as whining or unsatisfied. But the more people complain the more chance there is that something will be actually done. Because you should never accept less than what you paid for.


MARBOROUGH HOUSE - by Stephen Hunter

Maryborough resonates with echoes of an earlier grandeur that intrigues local visitor and international guest alike…
Maryborough House Hotel(021-4365555 e-mail:maryborough@indigo.ie) sits on sloping wooded ground above the Douglas River estuary 3 miles south of Cork city centre. The beautifully restored 3 storey over-basement house that now serves as the show-piece for a modern hotel and conference centre was built around 1715. Suburbia has gradually expanded into this once-rural setting, with 24 acres of the 400 acre demesne (which included a farm, orchards, woods and gardens) remaining. Since opening in 1998 Maryborough has gained an international reputation, while putting down firm roots in the local community. It offers an ideal destination for a drive or walk, with a mellow, welcoming ambience where the visitor feels totally at ease; a place for a delicious meal and a drink by the fireside, or for a stroll and a picnic in the grounds.
Proprietor Dan O'Sullivan takes an obvious pride in the establishment and a strong interest in its past: "There were three main families involved here. The Newenhams built the house and stayed for many years. During the 18th century they had a private bank situated first on Patrick St, then on South Mall, which issued its own 5 shilling bank notes and closed about 1825. Another branch of the family owned 'Coolmore', outside Crosshaven, which is still standing and was regarded as this houses’s twin. The Perriers, who were originally Huguenots and supplied Cork with several Mayors, rented Maryborough from the Newenhams for 14 years. Lastly, the Sherrard family were here for the next 120 years. They made the gardens famous for their produce and were suppliers of agricultural machinery.”
“By 1995 the old house was in a bad way. We bought it and the restoration, mostly effected by Cork builders P.J.Hegarty’s, cost 0.75 million. Rather than trying to completely reproduce a Georgian house, we enhanced surviving elements and combined modern features as tastefully as possible. The new extension was built in the footprint of the servants’ quarters, stables and courtyards, which had gone beyond repair. We worked with Dublin architects Cody and Associates, experts in Georgian restoration, and we're proud of the result.” Refurbishment work revealed traces of the foundations of an earlier, possibly 17th century house. "This previous house was smaller and probably faced up Maryborough Hill, rather than down to Rochestown, which is how the present house was orientated. There are wine cellars and a well which supplied the house with water." As the biggest establishment in the locality, Maryborough acted as a cog in the Ascendancy administrative machinery, including what passed for justice at the time: "There is a big stone cell which was sometimes used to hold prisoners temporarily. The place is steeped in history and we would have loved to put in a restaurant down there, but it wasn't possible with the fire safety requirements."
The grounds have their stories to tell also. Dan points to the old stone walls remaining on parts of the property: "There were little sentry posts in parts of one wall, which the Newenhams erected to charge tolls on the road that they had built in the direction of Carrigaline. Hugh Sherrard was good enough to supply me with a list of all the trees and shrubs, so visitors with an interest can go out and see what we have. At over 300 years old, some of the trees are approaching the end of their life cycle. We have a 25 year woodland plan to ensure proper replanting and the County Council has been very supportive of this. All sorts of wildlife roam the place, including rabbits, pheasants and foxes." He identifies a semi-ruinous rustic cottage by the avenue as "The Milk Maid's House", which he hopes to restore. "The last milk maid lived in it until 30 years ago and her daughter approached me recently to tell me that she was born and reared there."
Dan tells a story about a former resident and the "dew bath", which surely represents a survival of a very old folk medicine practice. "One of the Sherrards' gardeners dropped by recently celebrating his 85th birthday. He is a fine healthy man whose father was a gardener here before him. He said that every morning when he lived in the Orchard House he used to strip naked and run out and roll in the dew of the grass, and that's what he attributes his health and long age to! Whatever its scientific merits, it certainly didn't do him any harm."

Note:The above article is reproduced by kind permission of ‘The Archive’. The Sixth Issue of the Folklore Journal, and judging by its public reception, is probably the best yet. Copies of the magazine, which is free, are available in libraries, bookshops and music stores. Archive 6 is a blend of history and anecdote that strikes a perfect balance between the popular and the scholarly. There is a wide range of engrossing articles from Douglas man Billy McCarthy’s evocative picture of childhood trips to the Old Head of Kinsale to Jim Morrish’s unearthing of fascinating material relating to the Italian violinist Paganini’s 1831 visit to Cork. If you have any difficulty obtaining a copy send a 92c stamped addressed A4 envelope to The Northside Folklore Project, Northside Community Enterprises Ltd, Mallow Rd, Millfield, Cork


BOYHOOD DAYS OF YORE - Part 8

By Ger O’Regan
As I wrote in a previous issue, I spent many a happy time with my cousins in Drinagh, West Cork. I was introduced to a way of life long now forgotten and never to be repeated. This was ideal for a city boy. Those were the days when the summer was sweltering, unlike this and many past summers. How many of you city and suburb dwellers have been to a sheep dip ?
We'd herd the 100 or more sheep to the dip near Curraghlickey Lake 4 miles away. This was a real adventure for my pal ''Jerry'' and I and accompanied by John and Tommy so that we wouldn’t run the sheep ragged.? The dip comprised of a ''concrete swimming pool'' full of water and some type of Jeyes Fluid. I pitied the poor sheep as they were herded in and dunked. No dry towel upon exit here.
How many know how to put a hen to sleep? Put her head under her wing, then spin her entire body anticlockwise for 1 minute and lay the body on the ground. result, a sleepy hen. I wouldn’t try that with a cock though.
The parish of Ballinlough is a very nice safe place to live with very nice people. It is sandwiched between the city and Blackrock and Douglas and has most facilities. I've lived there for 50 years, in fact all my life. As children we visited almost every haunt. How many remember exploring ''Henertys Wood'' where the Community Centre and Scout Hall now stands. This was ''Robin Hood territory and Sherwood Forrest'' for us, a great place to become reasonably lost.and a great spot to bring girls ''when we thought we were in love''??
I've always been intrigued by the name'' Coppinger Stang''. I now know its location but as a child the name reminded me that this place could be a long lost mansion. Only for Con Foleys excellent book on ''The History of Douglas'', I still would not know where ''Coppinger Stang'' was located. the nicely developed park South of St. Anthonys School was in my time a disused quarry, it was a dreary and dark forbidding place where I seldom went but it did have a intriguing very deep pool. I can also remember seeing a quarry across the road from Silverdale but the memory now is not as clear as it used to be. But I am open to offers for more information.
''Beaumont Quarry'' holds a handful of memories. Our gang comprised of' 'Davy, Robbie, Eddie, Michael, Henry, Martin, Eddie(2), Pat, Greg, Michael(2), Hiliary and myself and no women, t.g.
We spent years admiring the outside and only once ventured inside the caves. but we excelled in ''Our Game''. The place was a dumping ground way back then for everything and anything but especially old cars. We would remove the bonnets and take them to the steepest point of the quarry. Three or four of us would sit on the bonnet and be released downwards. We would literally be hanging on to each other to avoid falling off.
Conveniently halfway down, the earthbank levelled off and we'd come to a thundering stop with bodies flying everywhere. if we hadn’t stopped, there was a drop of 20ft below the level. Thankfully we always managed to stop in time. However upon returning home with a torn short trousers or a scelp taken off my knee, it was difficult to tell my mother what actually had happened for fear about not been allowed return there again.


WITNNESS 2002

TWO DAYS CHOCK FULL OF MUSIC AND…MUD!

BY AOIFE BARRY
Mud, glorious mud. Not just a few metres of mud, but a whole field of it. Make that an entire racecourse, actually. My first few minutes walking into Fairyhouse race course were like negotiating my way through a WW2 trench, seeking out what looked like ‘safe’ places to step on and avoiding the foot-deep holes where some unwitting person had been stuck moments earlier. After a two-and-a-half hour journey from Dublin city to Meath’s only racecourse, in a double-decker bus which was not only crammed from top to bottom with hot and sweaty students, but also regularly out-passed by people walking, I was not quite prepared to spend the next ten hours knee-deep in mud. Thankfully, despite this and other disheartening first impressions, including the closing of one stage due to waterlogging, the day didn’t turn out that bad, after all. In fact, the whole weekend just got better and better as the hours rolled by.
The cool thing about Witnness was the amount of bands playing there – they numbered near to 100 at the final count, and almost everyone of them were acts you wouldn’t mind shelling out good money to see (with the exception of Oasis, who I personally would spend good money not to see, but that’s just me!). The only problem is, in the excitement at actually being at Witnness, and owing to the disastrous traffic jams that brought us to Fairyhouse a good three hours after we’d originally anticipated, our meticulously constructed plans went out the window, colour-codes and all. Wandering around the area became the order of the day, as we tried to find our bearings among the plentiful, and expensive, food stalls, (six euro for a toasted panini!), piercing stalls, t-shirt and merchandise shops, portaloos, and the ubiquitous drunken men fast asleep on either a) the ground or b) those pesky blow-up chairs. On that particular note, if I do ever see another blow-up chair again, it will be far, far too soon. During the weekend, soaking wet, muddy and half-deflated blow-up couches, chairs and footballs were thrown amongst the crowd during every set, whereupon they would land on various people’s heads and faces, or slither down their backs. You could even tell who’d been hit, and by what, from the mud patterns left on their faces and clothes!
The Treatment Area was one of those bright ideas thought up by someone who obviously thought, “ A-ha! I know, lets let the general public get the chance to win passes to a ‘VIP’ area, where they get a few free drinks and feel like they’re stars, with clean toilets and special acoustic performances. They’ll have a ball! They’ll love it! More importantly, they’ll love us!” How wrong could they have been. Managing to get Treatment passes (nifty little wristbands, yellow for Saturday and blue for Sunday) for both days, I was able to see what Treatment was really like. Picture this: long, long, long queues for the toilets (even for the gents’!), an overcrowded bar area, mud everywhere, smelly portakabins, and nowhere to sit, thanks to the ‘poseurs’ that occupied the Moroccan-style couches for the entire weekend. The most fun I had there was when I sat next to the VIP area’s gate and watched people try to blag their way back to where it appeared one might have a genuine chance of bumping into someone relatively famous. In all cases, the bouncers just laughed while the person in question vainly attempted to get in by claiming their concert timetable, which was worn around the neck like a laminated pass, was really a laminated pass, and not a concert timetable. Or better yet, when they claimed they didn’t need a pass because they already were VIPs. Nice try, but not good enough.
Famous faces were conspicuously absent during the whole weekend – obviously some people didn’t want to get mud all over their jeans. Lightweights! I did manage to bump into the lead singer of one of my current favourite bands, Rival Schools, Walter, however, and managed to cajole him into letting us take a photograph and sign a few autographs. Even if no one knows who he is except the few of us there who own the Rival Schools album, ‘United By Fate’, believe me, it meant a lot to meet him! Apparently, Gwen Stefani from No Doubt was pottering about the Treatment tent for a little while, and caused somewhat of a media frenzy, and I did see Kim Gordon, of Sonic Youth fame, and Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol and The Reindeer Section wandering about too. Alas, nobody else could be spotted. All that free Guinness obviously couldn’t tempt them away from the VIP area!
When it came to the gigs, if you could avoid the stray blow-up chairs, mud-soaked drunks, mad moshers and the occasional flying pint, you were in for a rocking time. Festival favourites the Foo Fighters and Green Day got the crowd jumping in approval, while Oasis brought the farmers’ tans out in force – the ‘red face, half red arms, white body’ look was very in at Witnness! Even if they may be one of my least favourite bands, ever, Oasis still managed to succeed every other band usually fails – getting the entire crowd to sing. And when Oasis are in town, any singing is usually in a faux-Manchester accent – “ youuu gaattaa rooolll wit i’, youu gaattaa roollll wit i’, you gaattaa sayyyy what you sayyyyy…” Priceless! The Chemical Brothers proved they were a force to be reckoned with during their set, while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were the essence of cool in their leather jackets and perfectly coiffured hair. Damien Rice was, as always, on top form, while Nina Hynes and Melaton garnered impressive crowds for their status as relative newcomers. Mundy nearly brought the tent down and admits he ‘had a tear in his eye’ towards the end of his song ‘July’, so great was the atmosphere during his set! Rival Schools were loud, rambunctious and perfectly pulled off their 1pm slot, urging the crowd to jump as their charismatic frontman Walter careered madly across the stage. The only band that failed in getting the love of the crowd were those mad Britons, the Prodigy. If they learned one lesson from the weekend, it was probably that crude, crass and ill-timed comments don’t go down well with tired and drunken Irish crowds after 11pm. No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani made her impact felt when she scaled the side of the stage, driving the security guards mad in the process and certainly proving she knew the real meaning of Girl Power.
Highlights of the weekend? Well, certainly all that mud…not! Really it was the atmosphere; the sense of fun and excitement pervading the place; the amount of bands playing; the running around trying to catch all the bands; the star-spotting, the free drink (even if I ended up drinking water instead of Guinness, to keep from being dehydrated!); the heat (23 degrees and counting!); the farmers’ tans; the yummy -overpriced- paninis; the goons who were rolling about in the mud and then throwing their soaking wet clothes into the crowd; the security guards who had to break up the mud-fights; the mother-of-all-mud-fights which took place during Green Day and ended up with mud flying everywhere. And the lowlights? Well, to be honest, there were a few, but they didn’t overtake the weekend. There was some evidence of bad planning – a walkway that had been constructed to keep us off waterlogged land was too small for such a high volume of people, and in the end, its metal fences were torn down when the human traffic reached a complete deadlock. (As usual, the students did their best to revolt!) The closing of the Upstage due to water logging was something that couldn’t really be helped, but was a disappointment; the mud fights did tend to get out of hand; the one-way system for going to the dance tent and Upstage (once it opened), completely backfired and ended up with hundred of stranded festival-goers not knowing how to get in to the area they wanted to go to, and how they were going to get back out. The Treatment tent was nothing better than a shambles by late evening time, but you would’ve had to have been very boring to want to spend all day there anyway! And the portaloos – well, they were acceptable enough, but the less said about them the better.
So there you go. Witnness 2002. Bigger, better and much, much sunnier than last year. And now that I’m home, it’s safe to say that I’m filthy, sunburned, broke and exhausted, but happy as a pig in…mud!


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