Garth Brooks’ concerts will significant events for his huge fansbase in Ireland but for one Dundalk family, the Friday concert will be a very special night indeed.
Laura Alana Byrne and her family will attend the Brooks concert in memory of her younger sister, Donna Blair, who passed away following a tragic accident, when she was just seven-years-old.
“Donna always loved Garth,” said Laura.
“She had all his albums and would put his concert video on every single day.
“I can still see her sitting on the rug singing her heart out. By the age of seven she was obsessed.”
In and out of hospital with asthma, Donna was the life and soul of the hospital wards.
“She had asthma that caused her to be in and out of hospital a lot,” said Laura.
“She always brought her Garth Brooks video with her and the nurses used to joke with mum that she had them brainwashed.”
In June 1998, Donna had just been released from hospital when she was knocked off her bike in Muirhevnamor and rushed to Beaumont hospital.
On 13 June 1998, Donna’s machine was turned off and she passed away, aged just seven.
Donna’s organs were donated, which helped to save the lives of five other children.
When it was announced that Garth would be coming to Ireland, the family decided to arrange a night in memory of Donna.
“Donna just loved Garth,” said Laura.
“Mum would play Garth in the house and she loved him.
“Take That, and Spice Girls, would have been big at the time, but Donna was obsessed with Garth.
“Her favourite song was “Friends in low places” and she would go crazy when Garth smashed his guitar on stage.”
Laura and her family queued outside News and Deli, Park Street Dundalk, for twenty-eight hours in the freezing cold to make sure they all got tickets.
On Friday 25 July, Laura, mum Eileen, sisters Amanda, Tracey, Shiree, Ciara and aunties Brenda, Bernie, cousins, and husbands, will sing their hearts out at Croke Park in memory of Donna.
“It will be a great concert and it will be worth every penny.
“Donna will be singing with us as well,” Laura added.