3 Arena

Ireland’s most prestigious venue

Depending on your age you might call this spot The Point, the O2, or, as it is now known, the 3 Arena. Whatever it’s called, it is now, having pushed Madison Square Garden out of the picture, the world’s fifth most popular music venue; not all that surprising when you consider how much we love a live performance! And it’s not just music that’s made this venue so special, it’s been transformed into an Ice-rink at Christmas, a wrestling cage for cage Warriors, an indoor circus for Cirque du Soleil, and has hosted Eurovision three times.

the point depot

the point depot

The industrial looking arena was first built as a train depot for the busy port nearby helping transport goods to and from the UK in 1878. After the collapse of British rule in Ireland the depot became a place of neglect and dereliction along with much of the surrounding area until local developers decided to revive the historic building into a modern venue big enough to host Ireland’s largest indoor concerts. In 1988, U2 opened up shop with a private performance of Van Diemen’s Land kicking off the 30 years of huge performances we’ve seen since.

In ’92 The Point kicked off Nirvana’s first international tour as they worked their way across Europe with the Nevermind tour. The band’s first major label album, Nevermind exceeded expectation with dangerously oversold concerts throughout the tour as ‘Smells like teen spirit’ became a ubiquitous presence on TV and radio across the word. The album was selling over half a million copies per week by the Christmas season displacing Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ on the number one spot. Rolling Stone Magazine described the album as ‘a dynamic mix of sizzling power chords, manic energy and sonic restraint’.

The Point is also famous for having introduced the world to Riverdance, as the interval act for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994. Hosting a 4,000 person audience the venue was packed (compared to the 13,000 person capacity the 3 Arena has today) with an audience in awe of Bill Whelan’s Irish dance and music composition performed by Michael Flatley and Irish dancing champion Jean Butler. The show was broadcast to over 300 million people across the globe and the rest… well you know what happened.

riverdance eurovision song contest - travelmaster
riverdance eurovision song contest – travelmaster

I remember clearly the first time I was at the Point and how this quirky venue made me understand the spectacle of big-music. My Dad took me to see his favourite musician, Eric Clapton, in 2004, when I was 13. The massive arches designed to allow huge trains to pass under, the huge steel pillars holding the immense roof in place, hung with a thousands lights pointing and swivelling, and finally, the overwhelming sound of the guitar filling every corner of the vast arena and holding the attention of thousands of people; it’s a vivid memory that any of us who have been there will know. There’s no sign of the venue stopping either. U2 are back again this year for the eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE tour that’s set the blow the roof of for 4 days in November, as well as music from the genius that is Lauryn Hill, the wonderful Jess Glynne, Counting Crows, Chemical Brothers, Andrea Bocelli, and a whole lot more.

We’re living in a time where live music is becoming more and more accessible, especially in Ireland, and our national arena is a fine example of how a small country can, over 30 years, prove itself a worthy place for any act to perform and be adored.

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