In journalism, being in the right place at the right time can be all a reporter needs to get the story. Asking the right question can be a big help, too. In May, 1987 I went to New York to attend a U2 press conference on behalf of the (then) Cork Examiner and its sister paper, The Evening Echo. I was a freelance journalist and was asked to attend the press event on behalf of the Cork newspaper because their regular music correspondent wasn’t available due to pressing family matters. The press conference was held in Tommy Makem’s bar in Midtown, Manhattan on Sunday, May 10, 1987. The purpose of the press conference was for the band to announce the details of their forthcoming European tour, on the back of their triumphant US tour, following the release of their multi-million selling album, The Joshua Tree.

Now, deadlines are an important thing for newspapers and in those days when facsimile was just an innovation, a telephone was all important. There was no internet or email or mobile phones. An Irish journalist at a press conference in New York at 6pm on a Sunday evening had to factor in a five hour time difference, too and for a hot metal newspaper production/print line, getting the story through on time for the morning papers was a fine line.

Press Itinerary, May 1987

Press Itinerary, May 1987

So there I was in Makem’s bar, surrounded by international media; reporters, photographers, tv crews, radio jocks and I had to get my story. When we got in to the press conference, we were given the details of the tour and I was intrigued to find the European leg of the tour began with a show in a stadium in Cork. Now I was familiar with the band’s history since their early days and knew they were headlining shows in Cork’s Astoria venue, at a time when they could barely get arrested in Dublin. Then I saw my angle.

Thinking back on that occasion – I asked my question, got my story and the following morning, made a banner headline in the Evening Echo – I marveled at how the smallest thing could make the difference between success and failure.

So here’s the poem. I call it,

The Real Capital

There is, it is said,

a time and a place,

how a burst of speed

can win a race

Confirmed press list for USA trip

Confirmed press list for USA trip

 

So there we were

in Makem’s Bar

midtown, Manhattan,

surrounded by snappers,

tv crews and writers.

To ask a question,

we were told,

state your name

where you’re from

and for whom you pose

your query.

I thought of time

I thought of place

and stood up

feeling leery

I said my nameIMG_1621

I said my place

to a chorus of chuckles

and sniggers.

My name is Hayes

I’m here today

for the readers

of the Rebel County,

representing the ‘Examiner

and The ‘Echo,

my question is,

if you can tell me now

why you chose

to start your tour

in the jewel of the river Lee?

He looked me up,

he looked me down,

considering his answer,

then Bono spoke,

his words rang out,

Dermott, he said,

I swear to you now,

heart covered by his hand,

since our earliest days,

in the Astoria,

the fans embraced the band,

so, for us, without hesitation,

Cork is the real capital of Ireland

parkui(This Picture was taken from the Evening Echo’s photo archives)

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2 thoughts on “Real Capital

    • Funny you should mention the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. They used to sing a song called The Patriot Game, which used the melody of an old ballad and the lyrics of Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan. This is relevant to your comment on Desperation Drive, as Dylan, a close friend of the Clancys, adapted that tune for his own song, God on our Side

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