Garth Brooks broke down in tears as he took to the stage in Croke Park for the first of his five historic Irish gigs on Friday (09.09.22).

The country music superstar was overcome with emotion after finishing his first two songs, on his long-awaited return to the country.

He told the crowd: "We came back. I just want to enjoy this moment. I love you. I don’t know what words could describe this, and the return since 1997, so I’ll not try.

"I came here for one purpose and that was to raise some hell. We are going to play a lot of cowboy songs tonight, that is just what we do. Dublin this is what it is going to be like all night long."

Garth played to an 80,000 strong crowd at the stadium show, with four more sold-out gigs to follow this month.

Garth will play to a total of 400,000 people during the quintet of gigs.

He delighted fans with hits including 'Friends in Low Place', 'Rodeo, 'The Dance', 'Callin’ Baton Rouge', 'The Thunder Rolls' and 'That Summer'.

He also played Don McLean’s 'American Pie', Billy Joel’s 'Piano Man', and his wife Trisha Yearwood joined him for a performance of 'Shallow' from 'A Star Is Born'.

Garth, 60, said: "There was a young lady who was singing back up here in Croke Park in 1997, her name was Trisha Yearwood. And she fell in love with Irish whiskey that night. I don’t know who is more excited to be here, me or her.

“She’s having some kind of spells with an inner ear issue, it happens every five years or so, but she is hoping she will be better for the shows, if not we won’t see her this weekend. But she is tough, she is an entertainer. So we will play it by ear."

And fans were thrilled when Garth performed 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' live and in full, for the first time in over 15 years.

He said: "Guess what ballad we haven't played in 15/20 years…’If Tomorrow Never Comes’. And it may be the biggest Garth Brooks song.

"And if we did, it was just a snippet with just the guitar. The last time we did a big band thing to it, was this big ass place called the Point, so you think about it.

"But at the same time selfishly, it’ll be a joy to sing that song. It’s stood the test of time, and it is stronger. And it has travelled far and wide, so it has earned it."

Garth will perform again at Croke Park on September 10, 11, 16 and 17, after huge demand increased the dates from two to five.

And Aiken Promotions boss Peter Aiken revealed the concerts are extremely important to Garth, after making history with his five-night residency.

He said: "He’s very aware of just how big of an event this is. This isn’t just a concert; this is a big event. Nobody has ever sold five nights at Croke Park."