Buggles Pub, Thurles, Ireland

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Thurles is located in County Tipperary, in central Ireland. U2 performed there in March 1980, however the exact date is not known. One attendee remembers that the show was on a Sunday. The show was sparsely attended and some say only about 20 people were at the show.

The venue was the ballroom at the Buggles Hotel in Thurles, a venue often used for weddings as well as bands that would visit the town. It was located at the back of the hotel.

The show was listed as the final date of the “Come Out to Play” tour ad that ran in Hot Press magazine. That ad contained an error however, the date is incorrect. The show is listed as Sunday, March 22. March 22 would have been a Saturday night.

So when was this show to have been played? Local press at the time of the gigs were listing a show in Thurles on Sunday March 2. The date is confirmed in the “On the Road” column in The Irish Press which shares, “At the moment U2 are in the final stages of their ‘U2 Come Out to Play’ Irish tour, which featured a headlining appearance at the National Stadium last night and which ends in Thurles on Sunday.’ But the band did not play Thurles on Sunday March 2. Instead the band, escorting a reporter around for the NME went directly from their show in Cork on March 1 to a show in Tullamore on March 2.

The show was promoted by Elvera Butler, who also ran shows at the Arcadia in Cork. “I ran a short series of gigs in Buggles in Friar street and U2 was one of them. I was running gigs in Cork at the time and tried to include Thurles with a few gigs. U2 wouldn’t have been particularly known at the time – some of the other gigs in Buggles were Southpaw, The Virgin Prunes, and Stagalee. Probably about six weeks in total before we lost the use of the venue. I don’t particularly remember the gig as I was doing several a week at the time. It was a small room so would have looked ok.” Butler confirms that the band did not play Thurles on March 2, as she was part of the team that drove U2 from Cork to Tullamore for the show there. This is also confirmed in the NME article. She also shares that she does not remember using opening acts for the shows in Thurles.

So when did the show happen? We know for sure that the show could not have happened on March 22nd or 23rd, which is the weekend suggested by the misprint in the Hot Press ad. The band cancelled a series of shows to participate in the Sense of Ireland gigs in London. They remained in London for a few days after their show, and signed their contract with Island Records in the ladies room at the Lyceum at an Echo and the Bunnymen concert on March 23.

If the show did indeed happen on a Sunday, we’re tentatively going to suggest it likely happened on March 9, but we’ve been in contact with Elvera Butler, and she’s hopeful she’ll be able to narrow it down further for us.

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