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The Garth Brooks Netflix doc brings the whole Croke Park saga to international audiences

By James Fenton

June 17, 2020 at 4:30pm

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Garth Brooks documentary The Road I'm On is now on Netflix and while watching the whole thing might only appeal to his fans, there's a particular segment that Irish audiences will be interested in.

Consisting of two episodes, The Road I'm On deals with the rise of Garth Brooks from his childhood in Oklahoma to his life as an international country music megastar.

We all know that Garth has a special affinity with Ireland and that was made clear by the outrage that descended after his five Croke Park shows were cancelled back in 2014. If your memory is hazy on the whole sorry saga, basically Brooks had booked in to play five shows at Croke Park, with 400,000 tickets being sold. However, after pressure from residents of the Croke Park area, Dublin City Council told the musician he could only play three. Despite protests from fans around the country, all five concerts were eventually pulled.

All this is dealt with in episode two of The Road I'm On and the segment is in equal parts entertaining and mortifying for Irish people. Why?

Well, firstly there's Garth's former production manager John McBride explaining to viewers that "Croke Park is a neighbourhood venue. Three nights a year you can do something other than soccer." Do you want to tell him or shall we? Actually, this particular chapter of Croke Park history is eventful enough without bringing Rule 42 into it.

As the episode continues, we hear from a Drumcondra resident ahead of the planned shows who says "we'll be locked down in our community for five days," in what sounds like an eerie gaze into something bigger that will take place six years down the line.

We also see signs in the windows of houses saying 'stop the Croke Park madness' as well as huge crowds descending on Dublin in a last-ditch plea to the council to let the concerts go ahead. Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is also seen addressing the Dáil, saying: "Is anybody going to do anything about it? Can it be rescued?"

In a characteristic tug at the heartstrings, Brooks tells viewers that "when people say what's the best place to play, I tell 'em Ireland. It's crazy. I'm in love with that country. That's why it hurts so much." To prove his desperation for the concerts to take place, he also says "If the Prime Minister himself wants to talk to me, I will crawl, swim, I will fly over there this weekend, sit in front of him, I will drop on my knees and beg for those 400,000 people to just let 'em come sing." Why didn't you listen, Enda?

That's enough spoilers for now but if you want a refresher on how it all unfolded, fast forward to around the last half hour of the second episode of The Road I'm On. Or, of course, you could watch the documentary in full.

To sum up the madness of the whole thing, we'll leave you with a quote from RTE political correspondent Katie Hannon who says in the documentary that "My favourite moment of the entire debacle was when it was announced that the White House spokesperson had been asked if President Barack Obama was going to intervene."

In fairness, 2014 still sounds positively tame compared to 2020. The Road I'm On is available to watch on Netflix now.

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