New Brunswick

Springhill seeks U2 tribute to mining disaster

Moncton is not the only Maritime community that is planning a U2 concert this weekend as people in a small Nova Scotia community are preparing to celebrate a special connection with the iconic Irish rock band.

N.S. town invites rock band to special concert on Sunday to sing tribute song

Springhill, N.S., residents are hoping U2 plays a tribute song to the 1958 mining disaster when the band plays in Moncton on Saturday. (Canadian Press) (Canadian Press)

Moncton is not the only Maritime community planning a U2 concert this weekend as people in a small Nova Scotia community are preparing to celebrate a special connection with the iconic Irish rock band.

U2 is stopping in Moncton on Saturday for its final North American show in its 360 Tour and early projections estimate 100,000 people may attend the outdoor concert.

The concert is less than 100 kilometres from Springhill, N.S., a town of roughly 4,000 people.

U2 used to perform the Ballad of Springhill during the 1980s during its Joshua Tree tour. The song, which was written by folk singers Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl, is about the town's 1958 mining disaster.

With Moncton being the last stop on the band's latest tour, U2 will not come closer to the former mining community.

There is growing speculation that the band will bring back the song and play it during the Moncton concert. But some people in Springhill are organizing their own concert on Sunday and have welcomed the legendary rock band to visit their town.

John Alderson, a member of the town's Mining Heritage Society, said the band, and all concertgoers, are invited to his community for a U2 tribute day on Sunday.

"U2 may just show too, we don't know. You know if there's 300,000 people who show up in Springhill on Sunday, we will be able to accommodate that," Alderson said.

The band hasn't said whether they will show up, but have acknowledged the invitation.

Alderson said fans who attended U2's recent concert in Montreal think the band is getting ready to play it again in Moncton.

"The popular rumour is that during the warm-up, someone heard them playing the Ballad of Springhill. So, we're hoping that that its true, and we're hoping they're preparing to actually sing the Ballad of Springhill during their concert in Moncton," he said.

Springhill rallies for U2

Even if the band doesn't perform the song, people in the northwest Nova Scotia town are going to sing it at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Alfred Legere, a longtime U2 fan in Springhill, said he's rallying people to give U2 a show of their own.

"And we're all going to sing the song together in honour of U2 and the publicity and hope they have given to the town of Springhill," he said.

Springhill is known for a series of deadly mining accidents.

In 1956, an explosion at one of the town's mines killed 39 workers.

However, the largest disaster came two years later.

On Oct. 23, 1958, a seismic shockwave tore through the tunnels of the No. 2 colliery. The "bump" trapped 174 miners underground and 75 miners died in the disaster.

The miners who failed to get to the surface were trapped more than three kilometres underground in a nine-metre-long chamber that was only 1.2 metres high. There was no food and only half a can of water.

Rescue crews managed to find 12 miners six days after the accident. Three days later, crews found another seven miners.