The town of Sittard lies in the province of Limburg, the southernmost of the 12 provinces of the Netherlands. Sittard is the second oldest town in Limburg, and one of the oldest towns in all of the Netherlands, dating back to the 7th century.
Granted city rights in 1243, the town was a stronghold whose walls had remained largely intact despite its position in a war-torn Europe, until the Franco-Dutch War of 1672, when the combined forces of France, England, Munster, and Cologne invaded the United Provinces. In 1677, Sittard was entirely destroyed by the French in what is called the "Rampjaar" or "Disaster Year".
After the defeat and expulsion of the occupying forces of the French, Sittard become a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, but it would not be the last time Sittard would be occupied by outside forces. The growing might of Germany would soon hold dominion over the region at the onset of the second world war.
On September 19, 1944, General George Patton and the US second armored division (known as "Hell on Wheels") would free the town from four years of subordination by the occupying German forces in World War II. The road to Berlin for Patton's "Hell on Wheels" would run through Sittard and then on to Germany a scant few kilometers away. They would be the first American unit to reach the german capitol.
The present day municipality of Sittard (renamed Sittard-Geleen in 2001, incorporating the neighboring towns of Geleen and Born) has a population of almost 50,000 and lies on a narrow strip of land 6km wide at the constricted center of the Limburg Province. Belgium lies to the west, and Germany to the east. At the center of the town, lies the Stadsschouwburg. Built in 1958 as a cultural center not only for the Sittard municipality, but for the surrounding areas as well, the Stadsschouwburg was recently renovated in 2002, with the main hall providing a seating capacity of 750.
On October 18, 1979, 35 years and a month after General Patton's roll through Sittard, Rory Gallagher comes to Sittard with his own brand of "Hell on Wheels." After spending the last month on tour in Germany, Rory arrives in Sittard to begin the Dutch leg of his Top Priority tour.
Due to the file size of the tracks, this concert will be down in two parts. Also, the final track on CD2 is a filler track of "Too Much Alcohol" with a special Christmas greeting from Rory Gallagher. Enjoy the concert.
To see a 360 degree virtual tour of the Sittard Market Street go here.