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Friday, 7 November 2014

Beatlemania in Dublin

The Beatles arrived in Dublin on 7 November 1963 to play what would be their only gig in Dublin. The location for the concert was the Adelphi Theatre in Middle Abbey Street, right in the centre of the city, and the band stayed a short distance away in the Gresham hotel, now partly owned by U2.

Beatlemania was in full force at the time, and the band had been mobbed at previous gigs in the UK. It was expected that Irish fans would also turn out in large numbers, so extra police forces were drafted in.

The Beatles at Dublin Airport on 7 November 1963. with Frank Hall on the left
The Beatles landed just after midday on 7 November, and were greeted by a crowd of about 200 or 300 fans. The Irish radio personality Frank Hall was also present to conduct a short interview with the Fab Four, asking the inevitable question about Irish roots. It turned out that Paul, John and George all had Irish roots or relatives, and George even went to meet some of his Irish relatives while in Dublin. His mother had come over separately for the family reunion also.

George Harrison signing an autograph for a fan
Business owners on Middle Abbey Street and in the surrounding area took extra care in locking up their premises that night. Most put strong shutters on their windows, and motorists were advised to not leave their cars in the area. Inside the Adelphi, the concert security managed to control the crowd until the Beatles started playing ‘Twist and Shout’. At that point, the crowd surged forward to the stage. The curtain was lowered, including the fire security curtain, and the gig came to an end.

Some of the fans waiting eagerly for their idols.
Outside on Middle Abbey Street, fans had gathered hoping for a glimpse of their idols. People could not leave the theatre, or get in for the next show, and there was a serious danger of crushing. The gardai eventually managed to press the crowd backwards to the O’Connell Street area for a while, but again the fans burst through their cordon. A glass plate window was broken and cars were damaged when fans clambered on top.

The Fab Four themselves were kept safely inside the theatre, away from all the commotion. It had been arranged than an Evening Herald van would carry them back to the Gresham. The Evening Herald newspapers were distributed from a warehouse beside the theatre, so the presence their vans would not arouse any suspicions. Only a few fans that were waiting at the back entrance to the Gresham managed to get close to the Beatles that night, and even then it was only for a brief moment.

The next day, the Beatles were taken by police escort to Belfast – the gardai escorting their car until the border and the RUC taking over from there. The Beatles said they had enjoyed their Dublin gig and that they must return, but a second gig wasn’t to materialize.

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