Soft landing for revellers


Party's over at Oxegen

THE PARTY'S over. Oxegen, the largest music festival in the land, has been packed up for another year.

More than half the 75,000 attendees, some of whom had been on site since Thursday, awoke at Punchestown Racecourse in Co Kildare yesterday morning in surroundings akin to a landfill.

Mud-coated mattresses, collapsed tents and barbecues were among the items abandoned by some of the revellers who had exited the blue campsite, the largest at the festival, as well as mountains of beer cans and half-eaten dinners.

Concert promoter MCD said the festival clean-up would take a 400-strong team a number of days. It expected that some 1,000 tonnes of waste would be collected; of which half would be recycled thanks to eager participation by festival-goers in its environmental initiatives.

Sitting on a camping chair among the mess in the blue campsite was Faye Harrington from Dublin 18. The 20-year-old said she had enjoyed her maiden Oxegen experience, despite the persistent rain, but was now looking forward to some home comforts. "I can't wait to have a shower, some nice food - chicken and gravy maybe, and to sleep in my own bed," she said.

Performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Eminem and Jay Z were the highlights of the festival and Faye said: "I would definitely come back".

However, she did have some negatives to report from the weekend. "I got hit in the face by my own can on the first day when some guy tried to take it out of my hand," she said. "There were people getting rowdy and stuff being robbed from tents, but we were lucky."

James Brady (22) from Waterford said flares had been thrown around the campsite on Sunday night and he pointed out a tent across from his that had just been set alight by its departing owner. Moments later a steward with a fire extinguisher arrived to put out the small blaze.

A buggy carrying scores of fire extinguishers was making its way around the campsite to deal with such instances, which had become an activity for a minority of what gardaí described as a well-behaved crowd.

A Garda spokesman said there were no major incidents to report and that a total of 125 people were arrested for public order offences (38), thefts (35), drug dealing (27), drunken driving (16), assaults (five) and driving offences (four). There were 360 drug seizures.

Traffic, which moved smoothly for most of the weekend, was heavy on the roads around Punchestown yesterday as the festival site emptied.

This gave some shrewd local youths an opportunity to flog breakfast rolls, drinks, lollipops and chewing gum to those trapped in the gridlock.

Naas Chamber of Commerce president Allan Shine said the weekend had provided a welcome boost to the local economy. "It went very well. There was a huge uptake in business especially for hotels, restaurants and bars. It's a massive boost every year and we look forward to next year."