Ta siad ag teacht — they’re on their way

Thousands are sailing

Across the western ocean

To a land of opportunity

That some of them will never see

Fortune prevailing

Across the western ocean

Their bellies full

Their spirits free

They’ll break the chains of poverty

When the Pogues sang Thousands are Sailing back in the eighties, the country was in the depths of recession, and the boats out of the country were carrying our best talent away.

How ironic it is now that as we enter another recession, here in Galway it is the thought of people sailing across that very ocean towards us that cheers our hearts. In just a few days time, the boats of the Volvo Ocean Race will depart Boston and head across the Atlantic; the next land they see will be our own shores; the next landlubbers they see will be ourselves.

Walking around town this week, the buzz in the air is palpable, the realisation that in a matter of weeks it will be upon us. Like the feeling you got in your stomach when you heard that the Yanks had landed at Shannon and were driving up in the hired car, so too is the news that the spectacular boats in this race are preparing to leave Boston as we speak.

For the Green Dragon crew it is a very special kind of homecoming, and for the compilation of such an interesting and uniquely Irish programme, great credit has to go to the organisers and to the people of Galway.

And this is where we all come in to play our part, by making them all as welcome as possible and by kickstarting our summer right through to the Film Fleadh, then the Arts Festival, the Races, the oyster festivals, and right through into the Christmas. If we can maintain the momentum until then, we will be halfway though the expected remainder of the recession.

Already there is a great buzz around the town as at long last the reality of the event comes home to the vast majority of people. What started out as merely a sporting event has been converted into a fantastic occasion, that hopefully, if we do well, may be replicated when next it comes this way.

It will undoubtedly be the best stopover on the entire Volvo Ocean Race as it aims to be as inclusive as possible and aims to benefit as many as possible.

Already a whole plethora of local charities have been chosen as beneficiaries of the vast crowds that will descend on Galway for the event.

It is the kind of occasion that every coastal city in the Europe would love to host, the chance to showcase a region to a world-wide audience and the chance to give our ailing economy a shot in the arm.

For too long, this city has not availed of its wonderful location by the sea.

Hopefully the successful staging of this event will open up the possibilities that the dockside can become something to be treasured. Check out the local media to see how you can participate in this momentous event. The Government (remember those people? ) have given €8 million for the event to come to Galway, so let’s go out and party and give ourselves and our region a timely fillip.

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