After the president and Queen, come the Kings

WE have had the Queen and the president, now it is time for the Kings.

That’s the message from Slane Castle as music fans get ready for the first festival of the summer.

It seems only right that royalty of some kind is involved in Saturday’s concert that will also mark the 30th anniversary of the 1st concert in Slane as well as the 60th birthday of Slane Castle owner Lord Henry Mountcharles, which was earlier this week.

There have been changes to the access to the village and concert site this year and some are a direct result of the problems experienced after the Oasis concert in 2009.

Garda Superintendent Michael Devine says he is “confident” that the new plans will prevent a recurrence of the huge traffic chaos that ensued then, primarily as people tried to get to their cars or back to buses on the N2 south of Slane.

The new traffic plan bans all private vehicles from the N2 — the main Dublin to Derry road that runs north-south through the village.

“There will only be public transport on the N2. Access to that transport should be much better than in the past. There will be no parking on the Dublin road south of Slane either and I’d ask people coming in private cars to use the M1,” he said.

All buses will operate on a one way system that will have groups of 12 buses lined up in two rows to take people home after the concert.

The dropping off point for bus passengers will be the same as the pick-up point — just south of Slane village. “Heretofore we had thousands of people trying to make their way back to the buses, now the buses are coming to the patrons,” Superintendent Devine said.

Lord Mountcharles said it was acknowledged there were “very serious difficulties” after the 2009 concert and the new one way system, with a turning facility for the buses, “will significantly improve” on what was there in the past.

Event organiser Michael Slattery of concert promoters MCD said the plan was devised with input from with Dublin Bus, Meath county council and the gardaí.

In the outdoor arena, here have been “physical changes at the top of the site to avoid congestion,” Lord Mountcharles explained.

He added that his dream line-up for a concert would be The Who and Nirvana.

He is very excited about this year’s headline act and it promises to be, “is a real Rock n’ Roll gig”.

“I have seen the Kings of Leon live and there is a special synchronicity and magic here this year too because they say that Thin Lizzy are one of the bands that inspired them as indeed did the Rolling Stones so they are part of a true Slane tradition,” he added.

Thin Lizzy are also playing at the concert this year and will evoke special memories for Lord Mountcharles as it was they — with lead singer Phil Lynott — who headlined the very first concert in 1981.

The tickets for this years’ concert sold out in 40 minutes — a record matched by U2 and Robbie Williams and around a quarter of them were bought by fans in Northern Ireland.

The gates open at 1pm with the first band on stage at 1.30pm.

There will be about 450 gardaí working during the day as well as 880 security personnel and stewards.

This is in addition to the doctors, nurses, paramedics and voluntary organisations, including crews patrolling the river Boyne.

Details on traffic arrangements www.mcd.ie.

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