In the height of COVID-19 Ireland had the tightest and longest running restrictions in all of Europe. Ireland was recording over 3,000 cases of COVID-19 and worries hit an all-time high during the holiday season. When the DELTA variant hit our shores in December 2020, the government re-introduced full level 5 restrictions in January 2021. This meant no visitors in your home and no visiting other people’s homes, no dining inside and of course no gatherings – including concerts.

When level 5 restrictions hit, the arts and nightlife sector suffered the worst restrictions. Nightclubs, discos, casinos and concert venues were closed immediately and had no option to hold any performances or money making events to keep employees afloat. Bars, cafes and restaurants were forced to shut and were reduced to take away orders.

This ended officially summer 2021 with a few restrictions left which included mandatory mask wearing, showing proof of vaccination status entering restaurants or bars, but these businesses still had curfews of ten o’clock and midnight. January 2022 we saw the end of the last restrictions and things started getting back to some normalcy. This return to life before COVID was a welcome development from many of those in their 20s who felt as though they missed out on many experiences in the last 2 years.

Forbidden Fruit

The summer started officially with Forbidden Fruit festival on the 4th of June. This festival saw artists like Lorde and Cian Ducrot play alongside smaller Irish artists like SHIV and Malaki making it the perfect kick start to the summer festival.

The College Tribune spoke to Sophie Taylor who attended and she described her experience as “A weekend where I had the most fun in the past two years. Everyone was happy to be there and just ready to have a good time. At no point did I feel unsafe due to COVID. Ok there was no social distancing, how could there be, but everyone was still mindful and respectful of those around them. The only downside of the weekend was really the weather, we were washed out of it for the two days and I think some people forgot rain happened at these festivals as few of us if any were prepared for it.”

Marlay Park Concert and Longitude

The next major concerts were the Marlay Park gigs and Longitude festival from 27th June to 3rd July. Danielle DerGarabedian attended on 2nd July and expresses, “I have never seen that many people in one space for a very long time, it was truly like a sea of people moving from one stage to the next enjoying the music. My friends and I felt like we had aged out of the Longitude a bit, despite this we wanted to experience a festival of that scale and it was well worth it.”

Image courtesy of Danielle DerGarabedian

From Monday to Wednesday Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns n’ Roses all played and a welcome return to popular bands performing in Ireland. The weekend at Longitude had A-List performances from Doja Cat to Tyler the Creator so there was something for everyone. There was an older crowd for the Marlay Park Concert on Monday to Wednesday while Longitude’s crowd was younger, louder and rowdier. There were no reports of any major incidents at either show. At the end of the night, both audiences leaving the shows were calm and moved quickly with help from both stewards volunteering for the night and Gardaí and other emergency services.

Harry Styles Concert

The final massive show of the summer was Harry Styles who played the Aviva stadium. The concert may have started at 18:00 that day, but at anytime on 22nd June in Dublin you could see concert goers walking around in their Harry Styles-esque outfits. Feather boas, bold prints, bright colours and gems were the tell-tale sign who was attending that day and truly was a mark of one of the biggest concerts to happen in Dublin since 2019.

Leah Melia had a similar experience to the attendees at other concerts. Speaking with the College Tribune Melia expresses, “If I’m being totally honest, I never though about COVID once in relation to this concert. I bought the tickets over two years ago and have been looking forward to it through every lockdown. It was staffed like every other concert I’ve been too, stewards and Gardaí everywhere making sure people were safe throughout the entire night.”

Melia speaking about her time at the concert and seeing Styles live said, “As soon as Harry got on stage nothing else mattered, the atmosphere was electric and everyone was full of happiness. You could tell for some in the audience they grew up with Harry in One Direction and they were so excited to see him preforming solo. Honestly the whole concert was one big dance part as we were in standing and at the end of the night it was the best concert I had been to.”

Sophie Melia – Entertainment and Lifestyle Editor