When Philo hit Bundoran, 23rd August 1981
Few people realise that Stairway to Heaven got its world premiere in the Ulster Hall in Belfast back in March 1971. Its epic wonder was lost on an indifferent crowd who had migrated en masse to the bar on hearing the slow opening bars to what they thought was a folksy filler between the monster set pieces. Less infamous in the annals of Ulster rock lore, but no less remarkable is the notion that at the height of his powers, having just headlined the first ever Slane Castle festival with a Thin Lizzy gig on Sunday 16th August 1981, Phil Lynott decided to celebrate his 32nd birthday with a gig in Bundoran the following Sunday.
Worth mentioning is that no one these days would consider organising a big gig on a Sunday, but in those days it was par for the course and Sunday was very much part of the weekend. Back then, the notion that Sunday was, to use that ghastly phrase, a ‘school night’ was nowhere to be heard; the mantra was very much a case of polish up your pinting boots and get on out there. In fact, Donegal Town’s biggest night was reserved for Sunday where the Abbey Hotel was full to capacity with party animals who deftly ignored Monday for the sullen party pooper she always has been.
Rave of the year
Sean’s Sunday visitor
An attendee recalled the following account of the build up to the concert: