Limerick appeal for U2 to lend helping hand with gig

Noel Hourigan and Patrick Bird at the site of U2's performance in the Stella Ballroom, Limerick. Picture: Brian Gavin

A call went out yesterday to Bono and the band to return to the Limerick venue where they first performed in public as U2, and help give the troubled City of Culture programme a new impetus.

U2 took part in a band competition in the Stella Ballroom in Shannon Street on Mar 18, 1978. It was their first appearance under the name U2.

And like the City of Culture, they had a rocky Limerick debut.

Noel Horrigan, 58, from Flood Street was a doorman at the Stella in those days. “There were about 20 bands. U2 were eliminated early on, but re-entered, which they were allowed do by paying a second entry fee. A band from Adare were the big favourites to win. But at the end of the night U2 were declared winners with the group from Adare in second place. There was great disappointment that the Adare band did not win.”

The Stella is now a bingo hall and a plaque over the entrance reads: “Limerick Civic Trust. What Adam Clayton called ‘The exact point of beginning U2 occurred here on March 18, 1978, when the band performed as U2 for the first time and won the Limerick Civic Week Pop Group competition’.”

Patrick Bird, 29 whose father William now owns the Stella, said: “We would love to give the venue for a U2 return. I know they have a massive schedule, but if there was any gap in their itinerary it would be great if the City of Culture people could contact them and get them to come back to where it all started in 1978.

“It would be simple to remove the seats for a band performance. Bono might go for it, especially [given] that Limerick gave the band their first big break and the city would now really appreciate anything they could do for the City of Culture which has gone through a difficult start.

“We would do everything to accommodate a kind of ‘back to where it all began’ gig by U2.”

Noel Horrigan, who still works at the Stella, said: “I remember U2 well. They were lovely young lads. Bono was kind of skinny in those days. They were absolutely over the moon winning the Civic Week pop group competition and no doubt it helped them get started.”


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