The boy band Westlife was formed in 1998. Diarmuid was 10 years old. Diarmuid and his mates loved them. I decided to take D to his first Westlife concert in 2004.

It was in the Point. We visited Granny in Tipperary and he actually wanted to stay with her rather than travel onto Dublin with me. He was scared. It was the last song of the evening before Diarmuid dared to dance. Since then, we have been to most of their Irish concerts.

When the band split in 2012, I was released from my chaperone duty to the Point. Diarmuid was upset but continued to sing and dance to Westlife’s music at every opportunity.

Together again

In 2019, Westlife announced their Wild Dreams Tour and they would play Cork for the first time. Tim booked the tickets online.

Then COVID-19 hit and the concert was postponed several times. So last Friday night week, we headed off. The city was vibrant, bathed in sunshine. We strolled down Albert Quay.

Across the river there were happy crowds in summer colours at the pubs and restaurants. We rounded the corner in a stream of people into Victoria Street. The green awnings stretched along the street where drink and food was available. We purchased two hotdogs and two soft drinks and sat on possibly the last two places on the kerb to feast. We ambled on down Centre Park road. There were loads of stalls of hats and Westlife paraphernalia. Nobody was buying. Perhaps, a sign of the times.

Organisation superb

Organisation and streamlining of the crowd was superb. Páirc Uí Chaoimh looked amazing. The stadium is set off with lovely grounds near the river under mature trees. We got into pit A around 7pm. We were too late to get a place by the barrier.

Diarmuid sat on the floor. Then we waited. The sun was hot. Spirits were high everywhere and there was plenty of drink flowing. Westlife were due on at 8.30pm. We drank more water. I watched D closely. It was 9.04pm before the band came out. I don’t understand why they can’t stick to the times advertised. They love us, they thanked us for supporting them, they love their families, they were all there, so was Louis Walsh and so on, but they don’t respect us.

There were lots of grandparents and young children in the crowd. How difficult would it have been to be on time? A girl fainted in front of us before they ever graced the stage. Is it not a health and safety issue?

Once on stage, there were great antics. Fireballs leaped into the air. The light show was marvellous. “We love being up on stage we love it,” said Shane. “We’re going to go through the 23 years of Westlife!” The band was on some ego trip. I could see D was tiring. Then the most remarkable thing happened. A man and a woman were in prime position at the barrier. The man stepped back and beckoned to me to have Diarmuid take his place. In a heartbeat D was gone. I welled up at his kindness. It did allow me to feel less cross.

The band were leaping, jumping, running and sprinting as if to prove they could still do it. Of course this was all to wild screaming by the fans. It was some time before we could actually hear the music. All the hits were sung. There were four costume changes.

I softened a bit when Mark announced that he’d grown up on a farm. That might have explained the Friesian suits for the first quarter. Boots changed to shoes then to runners and finally sparkly shoes. There was great advertising indeed.

In the middle of the concert, they sang eight Abba numbers. It was very strange. The band acknowledged the difficulties of the last three years and sang a song particularly for loved ones lost. Fans appreciated that.

So, I have to bury my cynicism and admit that it was a good concert and real Westlife fans tell me that it was brilliant. The main man being Diarmuid.

I thanked Jim and Maureen Wall from Kilkenny city for their kindness to Diarmuid. It’s people like them that make our country the land of a thousand welcomes. It meant a huge amount to this mother.

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