“The prosecco is flowing, the sun is shining, sure what more could you ask for?”
Liam Barry from Goldbergs summed up the feelings of many on Friday evening as Cork basked in glorious sunshine and buzzed with the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of concertgoers descending on Páirc Uí Chaoimh to see Westlife.
The boyband are Leeside for two nights as part of their Wild Dreams Tour and yesterday’s weather contributed to an atmosphere that felt like a dream come true long before the concert started.
Dublin band Wild Youth and British singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé provided well-received support before the crowd erupted when Westlife opened with Starlight.
With tens of thousands of fans in attendance(including Mr Louis Walsh), and similar crowds expected on Saturday night, the party looks set to continue all weekend.
Fans have come from far and wide for the event, with groups from Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands joining throngs of Corkonians for what promises to be an epic occasion.
Outside Goldbergs on Victoria Road yesterday scores of women drank gin or prosecco or bottled beers and all seemed to revel in being out in the sun and having the craic.
Anna McCarthy from Mitchelstown was sitting with her friends at a wooden table and said she was ‘up for Westlife, loving life, living the dream'.
“I’ll tell you a story, I’m with my husband twenty years and the first CD he bought me was Westlife.”
Her husband was at home, she added. Anna’s friend Aoife Ryan said, to laughter, they were living their best lives with Westlife.
“We’re all big fans from back in the day,” she said, “back the first time bicycle shorts were around.”
Garda Chloe Smith, stationed at Gurranabraher, said the atmosphere had been fantastic all afternoon.
“People from all over are here, and they’re all loving it,” she said. “The weather is just fantastic, and that’s helping.”
Caroline Knightly was up from Dungarvan with her daughter Sarah, who was on a last-minute night out before heading back to Abu Dhabi.
“She loves Nicky, Nicky is her Number One, I love Shane,” she said.
The odd token male, a partner here, or a hostage there, for the most part looked slightly dazed.
“I’d say now if a man was single or he could pass himself off as single he’d be in paradise here,” said Keith, a forty-something-year-old married man who perhaps wisely declined to give his surname. “I’d say you’d be taking off the wedding ring and hoping the tan line didn’t leave you down.”
Across the road, Michael Connery from Galway was selling Westlife hats – pink, white, black – at a tenner a head. “The sales are through the roof, and loads of good-looking women around, so we all love Westlife,” Michael said.
Liam from Goldbergs said they were very conscious of the hot weather and working to help people cool and enjoying the day.
“We’re doing our best to look after people, we’re giving out free bottled water, we’re letting anyone who is suffering from the heat to come inside and cool down, we’ve provided toilets outside, and the council, the guards and ourselves, we just work together.”
Sergeant Barry Myers said the crowd was “about 90% women” and all were in fantastic form.
“It’s great to see people in such good spirits, and myself and my colleagues in An Garda Síochána, we’re mixing with people, having the craic, and anyone who’s not from town and asking for directions, we’re having a great auld time getting to know all these people,” he said.
Over in the Marina Market, long queues lined up at every food stand. Kate Doyle from Wexford queued at Sultan. “I love Westlife,” she said. “I’ve been a fan as long as I can remember. I can’t wait!”
Cork City Council workers John Moore and Donal Cronin were on clean-up duty, and John said it was great to see a buzz around the place.
“You love to see a bit of life in town,” he said.
Donal said it was nice to see people having fun again, “especially after Covid. Sure didn’t we have enough misery for two years?” he said.