The Galway ethos deserves its place at the top table
For a county and city which has provided leaders in many spheres throughout its long and varied history, it is surprising that it is only next week that a Galway person will take his/her place in one of the key political roles in the country.
Never before have we had a Taoiseach or a President, unlike our neighbours in my own home county who have had several (including some with very tenuous connections).
Michael D espouses the Galway ethos — that heady mix of idealism, radicalism, craziness, notions, divilment, pragmatism that you find in varying levels in almost all of the people who make Galway their home. It was a mix that would, through East Coast glasses, be seen as overly Bohemian. This ethos was alien to much of the political thinking that ruled this country for the past few decades and as a result it was never trusted inside the corridors of power. So much so, that when our new President joined the Cabinet, it was felt that he would “go mad,” because after all, that is what Bohemian people do, isn’t it? After all, gondolas are fine, but who’s going the feed the feckers?
It is this ethos that makes people come to Galway in the first place and it is this ethos, which, weblike, manages to suck us in, like a parlour-loving fly, and leave us stuck here, dying a death of hedonism and excitement, for the rest of our days.
Galway is proud of Michael D. It is proud of his ability to converse with pauper and prince and make both feel equally at home in his presence.
I wrote last week of the need to ensure that the presidency is not besmirched in any sort of controversy, and in the hands of Michael D, it is unlikely to be. The presidency is something we don’t want to have to worry about, because God knows we have enough to worry about as it is, and will have more so in the weeks to come, because Government TDs have been told to brace themselves for the inevitable backlash that will come from what is expected to be a very harsh budget in three weeks’ time.
So let us enjoy the moment and be proud in the fact that one million people in Ireland like the look and the sound and the smell of the Galway ethos and trust it enough to place it in one of the highest offices in the land. It will be a harsh winter ahead, but it will give us some comfort that we have gone some way towards healing this country by placing a gentle man, an elder man, an experienced and wise man with noble values in the office of the President. Savour the inauguration.