28 February 2020 is the 40 year anniversary of U2 playing at WIT/WRTC.As Waterford Institute Technology (WIT), formerly Waterford Regional Technical College (WRTC), celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, there’s another important anniversary – a beautiful day when a band called U2 came to play in the WRTC canteen.
Eoin Ronayne, now Deputy General Secretary at Fórsa trade union, the man who booked the band to play in Waterford on behalf of the Student’s Union has shared the original contract for the booking on behalf of the Students’ Union with WIT to mark the anniversary.
Ronayne, though not a student at the college, was a Waterford native involved in the arts and a local pirate radio station with the names and connections in Dublin to book rock bands on behalf of the Students’ Union.
The contract outlines that U2 charged £300 for the gig and requested sandwiches, beer and minerals to be provided in the dressing room. The band have yet to respond to a request from WIT to return to Waterford for a gig for the same fee.
Ronayne recalls that once a month the Student’s Union would run gigs, in the student canteen, using tables as a stage.
“They were only up and coming and had only released one record. The gig sold out and there were 400 at it. A few months later they played the Showboat in Waterford and only 200 attended.”
What were they like? Ronayne didn’t realise how successful U2 would become and he ended up going to see the Horslips in Dublin that night. But he does have the evidence of the night U2 came to town.