Punchestown Racecourse lies in the heart of picturesque County Kildare, near the town of Naas, the historic seat of Ireland's Leinster Kings. The most famous of these Leinster Kings, Dermot MacMurrough, is forever vilified by Irish Nationalists for bringing England's soldiers onto Irish soil. Expelled from his homeland by Roderick (Rory O'Connor), the High King of Ireland, MacMurrough enlisted the aid of Henry II to reclaim his kingdom. Unwittingly, MacMurrough would lead the English into the conquest of Ireland itself, and Rory would be the last High King of Ireland.
Punchestown Racecourse opened its gates in 1783, and has been the home to the Irish National Hunt Racing for over 150 years. The premises and facilities at Punchestown Racecourse have been used on numerous ocassions to stage pop concerts, most notably, the one held on July 18, 1982 to celebrate Hot Press Magazine's 5th year anniversary.
The first issue of Hot Press rolled off its presses in June of 1977, with Rory Gallagher on its cover, but by 1982 its coffers were empty and the upstart music magazine was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. To their rescue came Rory Gallagher:
"In 1982, when we needed people to play a benefit gig for Hot Press to keep the paper from closing down, the first person I called was Donal Gallagher. Within 24 hours, Rory had agreed to play"--Niall Stokes
The concert bill soon started to unravel however, as artists who had agreed to play started bowing out. The festival looked to be on the verge of collapse.
"Through it all Rory never wavered and for anyone who was there the gig turned out to be one of the most memorable in Irish rock history with Rory Gallagher and his band, Philip Lynott, members of U2 and Paul Brady ending up on stage together in a spontaneous celebratory end to a great day's rock 'n roll..."--Niall Stokes
The concert drew approximately 16,000 people, and marked the first time Phil Lynott and Rory ever played together on the same stage. It proved to be a memorable one. So grab a blanket and come sit on the grasses of the old racecourse as Rory returns to Leinster Province and proves once again why he is the High King.