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EMMA CONNOLLY: Portal is not a patch on enjoying a spot of people-watching down the Páirc!

May 26th, 2024 5:45 PM

By Emma Connolly

EMMA CONNOLLY: Portal is not a patch on enjoying a spot of people-watching down the Páirc! Image
Bruce Springsteen put on another epic show at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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It seems people have trouble keeping their manners on the transatlantic portal between New York and the US. It’s so much easier just to have a gander at the crowd at Bruce Springsteen!

  DEAR oh dear. You’d really have to admire the optimism of the people behind the ‘portal’ art exhibit that visually linked New York and Dublin in real time.

Apparently, the artist and team were so busy installing the exhibit that they never actually thought about how it might attract anti-social behaviour. Bless them. That anti-social behaviour ranged from a US model lifting her top up because she ‘thought the people of Dublin deserved to see two New York, homegrown potatoes,’ (lost for words) to people in Dublin displaying swastikas and images of the World Trade Center burning.

The portal was put to ‘sleep’ for a few days but has since resumed, and will now operate during certain hours only. It’s on borrowed time if you ask me.

Visitors to Flatiron Plaza in New York say hello to Dublin via the The Portal. While it has been a great way to connect with people across the world, The Portal has brought out the antisocial side in some people. (Photo: Shutterstock)


Anyhow, like nearly everyone else in Cork last Thursday, I headed to Páirc Uí Chaoimh to see Bruce. I have to say the most enjoyable thing about the whole thing for me was that I found my ‘tribe’ – my middle-aged tribe.

There wasn’t a belly top in sight, instead the crowds were kitted out in hiking shoes (the steps to the stand are steep in places, to be fair), and functional rain gear.

Some of the more optimistic among us had to shell out for the rain ponchos alright when the heavens opened (and boy did they open), but everyone still had their all-weather shoes to rely on. And we were all in sensible jeans too. Comfort over style and sure, what’s wrong with that?

Staying with the middle-age theme, lots of people arrived looking a bit frenzied, like they might have come straight from dropping kids to a match or gymnastics, or directly from work.

I think I heard one person on the phone giving instructions on how to heat up a Shepherd’s Pie for dinner, and there was definitely a lady checking the spellings with someone on the other end of the line.

Being a vaguely responsible adult is a full-time job, and getting out on a Thursday night was hard work, but when Bruce stepped on the stage everyone’s real-life concerns melted away for a while. The crowd was nice and chilled, lots of people were drinking lovely cups of tea, and I’m sure I saw someone produce sandwiches from the dark recesses of a deceptively small handbag. I was dying to find out how she did it!

I decided the novelty of being out and about on a school night called for a celebratory gin in a can which, for anyone who hasn’t tried it, delivers an instant hit of joy while you’re drinking it, but quite the powerful punch of a headache the next day. Just something to keep in mind.

Now, I must admit that as I’m not a life-long fan of Springsteen, I’m only familiar with his big hits, so I was a little disappointed that he didn’t play too many of them. There was no ‘Born in the USA’, ‘Glory Days’, or ‘I’m no Fire’ – c’mon like! That’s probably why I got so excited when he blasted out ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ 12 songs into the play list.

At least I knew that one, even if the crazy part of my brain started to wonder if it was our turn to host on December 25th and if I needed to start making a list? I think my husband recognised the mad glint in my eye and handed me another gin!

Anyway, to be honest I was just as happy people-watching and quite often my husband had to remind me ‘the stage is that way!’

All that aside, I’d love to know what vitamins Bruce is on. For a fella who is nearly 75, he’s got some stamina. Maybe it’s got something to do with a stadium of people hanging off your every note (and singing Christmas songs with wild abandon in May)?

That has to feel pretty great. Whatever his secret is, he certainly gave it socks – and we all squelched our way out of the stadium and off home, happy out.

Now that I survived my ‘big night out’ I’m thinking about going to see Sting in Musgrave Park in June. Same dress code, right? Sure I have the rain poncho now and all, so it would be a shame not to get more use out of it.

What else? Yes, so I bailed on Bodkin on Netflix. I tried, I really did, out of loyalty to the fact that it’s shot in West Cork but it just got so convoluted (and perhaps a bit tedious) that I just couldn’t get past episode five. But like a bad break-up, I’m sure it’s me, not the show, so check it out for yourself.

Also I’m one of the many who are relieved that Operation Transformation has been axed. There’s a time for everything and I think this format of a show has definitely had its day.

Finally, I was quite surprised to discover that there are so many amateur artists among us in our communities. Who knew! They are showing their ‘talents’ on the local election posters (focusing mainly on teeth and moustaches) and while I’ve yet to see any of them at work, they are certainly burning the midnight oil and leaving their mark all over the place. Wouldn’t you have to wonder about people, all the same?

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