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Slane Castle is a castle, near the village of Slane, overlooking the river Boyne, in County Meath, Ireland, just a few miles upstream of the site of the battle of the Boyne, where William Of Orange fought King James. It was originally built by the Normans, and is now owned by the Conynghams, the current resident being Lord Henry Mountcharles, son of the seventh Marquis, who is the current head of the family. The Conynghams were originally a Scottish noble family, who settled in Donegal in 1611.

The castle, as it currently stands, dates back to 1785, when William Burton Conyngham, and his nephew, the first Marquis Conyngham, commissioned the famous Irish architects James Gandon, James Wyatt and Francis Johnston to rebuild the castle. The property had belonged to the Conyngham family from around 1701, when it was sold to them following the Williamite confiscations. The castle itself features some beautiful plasterwork, stained glass windows, and the neo-gothic ballroom, as well as a dramatic-looking gothic gate on the Mill Hill, and a courtyard designed by Capability Brown.

The castle was actually fairly severely damaged by fire back in 1991; but repairs were finally completed in 2001. Slane Castle is now available as a venue for corporate hospitality events, and will be opened for public viewing in early 2003.

But that's not why we're interested in it.

For the past 21 years (since 1981), Slane Castle has played host to some of the greatest concerts/one day festivals Ireland has seen. There's a grassy hill beside the castle, which forms a kind of natural amphitheatre, just perfect for a large scale concert. Especially in the summer, when the Irish weather is almost bearable.

Here's the list of every concert played there:

I've been to two of those concerts; the first U2 concert in 2001, and the Verve in 1998. U2 were good, although Bono was obviously upset at the death of his father; it was touch-and-go whether or not the concert would actually go ahead. The Chili Peppers were excellent; Coldplay rocked a lot more than their studio recordings would suggest, and JJ72 were hilariously good. Relish are just a little Irish band (and not terribly likely to "make it"), and Kelis was just boring. But it was a good day.

As to the previous gig....Junkster (see the bit about Relish above) were hilarious, their female singer insisted on wearing much-too-tight leather pants which really didn't suit (or flatter) her, along with a cowboy hat. She also has a habit of stretching her left hand out perpendicular to her body while singing, which I imagine must get pretty tiring.

James were fairly dull; The Sea Horses were dull, apart from John Squire's spectacular guitar work....the bastard came on dressed like somebodies lost grandfather, looked bored, and coaxed the most amazing sounds out of his Les Paul. Finlay Quaye I ignored by browsing the T-shirt stalls.

Robbie Williams was just Robbie Williams. Great showman, pity about the songs. Although his thrash version of Back For Good was pretty amusing; anything that pisses Gary Barlow off that much has to be a good thing. I was right up the front during Robbie's set, in preparation for the manics, and I had 12 year old boys and girls climbing all over me. Not a pleasant experience.

Tha Manics were the reason I'd gone to the gig in the first place. They were good....they played well, but there wasn't much excitement. They played a lot off their newest album, which hadn't been released yet, so we didn't know them...but it was fun anyway.

I only watched the Verve for about 15 minutes, because none of my friends were that bothered about seeing them, so we decided to get out before the inevitable rush. They were ok, but they had a steel guitar player instead of the by-then gone Nick McCabe...which was disappointing.

Contrary to all the rumours of last year, it seems that the 2001 concerts aren't going to be the last; see above for the 2002 line-up, which is a lot... narrow-er than previous concerts. This year's theme seems to be indieish guitar pop/rock. Not that that's a bad thing. I shan't be attending anyway, I have tickets to the Witnness festival in Fairyhouse. Primal Scream, Oasis, Gomez, Idlewild...mmmm...


  • http://www.slanecastle.ie The Slane Castle website.

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