Everyone gets a gig during Race Week. For those who want it, and even for those who don’t - there’s always an opportunity to turn a few tricks. A trick here, a trick there. It’s as if the world will end come Sunday and a great opportunity to make money will have been lost. And long may it continue. With the clink clink clink of the hammers taking down the Big Top and the ‘up ya boyo’ of the racing fraternity replacing it, Race Week is the turning of the year for us here in Galway. The passing of the year from before the races to after the races. The beginning of the official countdown to the festive season. Before now, you’re not allowed mention it and even now, you’d be loath to even joke that its good news for insomniacs, with just five sleeps ’til Christmas.
Race Week brings out the entrepreneur in us all. Whether it’s lucky pens outside the races, or strumming a guitar in a band — any band worth its salt never sees a pillow all Race Week. A trick here, a trick there. B and B. Clear the back room, Bridie, get out the auld duvet. Crank up the toaster...Roll them in…for the week…waxing, waxing lyrical, sure you can’t go to the races till you’ve been waxed to within an inch of your life…smooth operators and shellac, sure if you don’t have nails long enough and sharp enough to turn the pages of the race card, you just not living, dahlin...kerrching. Ten thousand gallons of carrot juice. Sprayers attached to the hoses...line up ladies, close those eyes, it’s tanning time...kerrching...beer garden, beer streets more like -- plastic beakers...no washing up--kerrching. A trick here, a trick there. It’s like 2006 all over again, minus the choppers and the extravagant parties.
Passed three fellas there the other day on the Square looking up at the Sikorsky chopper as it mades its way across the sky towards the hospital in Newcastle “That’s a big helicopter. Is that JP Mc Manus or Dermot Welds,” one said. I hadn’t the heart the them that the only person it was probably carrying was some unfortunate who fell and broke a leg on the islands.
And while the choppers might have been few and far between, it’s definitely true that Galway is an indicator of the Irish economy. If the Galway Races are a good barometer as to the overall state of the country, Ireland is on an upward curve. The opening two days of the races both featured large crowds and solid betting figures.
The attendance on Monday was 19,214, up marginally on the corresponding figure of 18,938 last year. The Tote betting aggregate was €782,340 again up on the 2014 figure of €738,940, while the bookmakers’ turnover was down slightly at €1,208,418 (€1,242,229 in 2014 ).
So it’s a great week for Galway, a real boon to the economy. And a confidence booster as we put the finishing touches to our application for the European Capital of Culture process. That envelope has to be in the post by October 16, so there are 10 weeks in which we can all play our part in ensuring that the bid reflects Galway as it is, with races and arts, and sport, and food and drama and music and Galwayness. Play your part.