AROUND 35,000 Ed Sheeran fans flooded Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night as the British singer-songwriter kicked off the Cork leg of his Mathematics Tour.
From late afternoon yesterday, all roads to the stadium were speckled with super fans, chip vans and merchandise vendors.
Lads and ladies, girls and boys, families and friends made their way to the stadium in balmy weather, with strong sunshine and a light breeze bringing relief from the heat.
The Cork gig inspired a wide range of fashionistas to unleash their style on the streets of the Rebel city with everything from dresses, crop tops, cut jeans and flowery prints making a strong impression in the multicoloured fanfare that milled the pavements en route to see Ed.
The luscious smell of hot chips travelled well in the warm breezy weather and anyone with a hankering for some snacks was sure to have their arm twisted.
Outside the stadium, a long line formed at every entrance as security and ticket checks were getting underway and security staff manned residential areas ensuring no one tried an audacious attempt at grabbing last-minute parking, across the road.
A strong Garda presence was also very visible along the pathways to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, with squad cars and hi-viz wearing members keeping an eye on the streams of fans, young and old that made their way to see the popular redhead play in Cork.
The Marina Market was mobbed as the already popular venue picked up some customers from the masses making their way to the stadium and a lone pianist played Ed Sheeran songs on a keyboard in the sunshine as crowds hummed or sang along on their way past.
The last time the British singer-songwriter visited the Rebel County was during his Divide Tour, where he played for over 100,000 Cork fans.
Last night’s concert marked the beginning of Sheeran’s two-day Leeside stint, with 70,000 people set to attend the Cork leg of the Mathematics Tour.
“I haven’t been [to Cork] since 2018 when I did the last shows so I’m really excited to get back.
“It’s such a beautiful part of the world,” Sheeran told Red FM ahead of this week’s gigs.
With his paternal routes tracing back to Ireland, the decision to start his year-long tour here was a natural one.
The ‘Shape of You’ singer even revealed that he has family living in Cork.
“I have a bunch of cousins and uncles and aunts that live there so I just hung out with them and got taken around. It was good fun,” he said of his last visit.
“They live all over Cork. My cousin Lee came on tour with me before. I actually know all of my Irish cousins from birth.” The new dad was also spotted in a Cork pub during his last trip.
While he plans to venture into the city again this week, his daughter Lyra, who was born last summer, is his priority this time around.
“I will definitely head out for a couple,” the star said. “But lie-ins are no longer a thing now that my daughter is on tour with me so I’m trying to go a little bit easier.”
His new routine fits tour life, Ed said.
“I won’t lie, I think I finished at 5am or 6am last time and she was up at 6am this morning,” he said.
“The routine actually fits professional tour life. I play with my daughter, I have a little workout, and I eat a healthy breakfast. This is a healthier tour.”
Sheeran may even be spotted taking a walk around the marina, having asked former Olympian Rob Heffernan where the best place to stroll was.
Fans attending tonight’s gig are advised that gates will open at 4pm today ahead of the concert, with opening act Denise Chaila set to take the stage at 6pm, Maisie Peters from 7pm, and the man himself after 8pm.
Gardaí will be implementing a strict traffic management plan, with a cordon taking place around the stadium from 3pm.
From this time, there will be restrictions from the roundabouts at Monahan Road and Centre Park Road and on Crab Lane and Church Avenue. A full lockdown of the area will be in place from 5pm.
Attendees are encouraged to use public transport. Taxis can drop off and pick up at Victoria Road while bus operators are asked to use the nearby Circle K petrol station.
For those getting lifts, the Monahan Road roundabout is a 20-minute walk to the stadium, Ballintemple is a 10-minute walk and there will also be access points on the Blackrock Road. Those with special needs will be allowed access to closer drop-off points.