I remember the scene about about a decade or more ago, when Inishbofin was annoyed that they weren’t getting something or other that they richly deserved from Galway Council Council, they told the council that if they weren’t getting it from Galway, they’d head off to Mayo and get it there. They said that they’d hold a plebiscite on the island, and in one fell swoop, they’d recommend that they pitch their lot in with Mayo County Council, because the Mayo islands seemed to be faring much better.
The roads, the piers, the infrastructure that was coming from Mayo just seemed to be much sweeter than Bofin was getting from Galway. It just wasn’t feeling the love. Councillors kept using that oft-abused phrase that islanders were left on the ‘hind tit’ when it came to getting their fair share. Phrases like “shockin’ and “tis a disgrace ’tis” were used by mainland councillors keen to keep their off-shore supporters onside. And then they delivered the blow that if Bofin didn’t feel the love in Galway, it would feck off to Mayo where islanders from Granuaile down were feted like equal citizens, not treated like dirt. There was shock and consternation that such a bold threat would be made against the heartland of Galway; that they’d turn their backs and Vote to Leave.
Now, at the time, Mayo weren’t even canvassing for another island. They last thing they had on their mind was another island atin’ into their resources. They didn’t want to have to redraw the maps of Mayo to include Bofin. They didn’t want to be reprinting tourist brochures. Whole hordes of civil servants went into panic at the notion that they come on one Monday morning and suddenly have a new island. Out of nowhere. Take me and break me and make me an island no more, they opined. Until they looked at the possible expenses claims that would be incurred if one had to make a legitimate trip to aforementioend new island, you see.
Now Bofin had no gas or oil, just lots of wonderful birds.
Councillors were stunned. The media were stunned. Almost woke up at the meetings, we did. Almost.
Bofin was staging its own Boxit.
The locals were keen to REMAIN but if it meant getting what they deserved, they would have gone along and voted LEAVE. Maroon flags would have been taken down from the islands and the green and red standard would fly atop the flagpoles on all the public buildings on ‘Bofin, which at the time, just included the health centre and the community centre at the top of the hill.
If the vote had gone ahead, would there have been the scaremongering that has taken place in the UK over the last few months.
Would the Bofin REMAIN campaigners have warned school children that their football skills would suffer if they went to Mayo, that previously deadly accurate footballers would soon be unable to hit a cow’s arse with a banjo if they gave up the maroon and became Mayos.
Would the other islands have encouraged a LEAVE vote so that they’d get a greater share of the pie. Would there be big OffWithYe banners posted across Inis Mor and InisTurk?
In Mayo, would the REMAIN campaigners spread fear that the county would be inundated with refugees from ‘Bofin, coming in and singing sean nos songs and talking of seeing strange wild birds. Mayo fishermen were aghast that a LEAVE vote would see them giving up their fishing rights. Flotillas would have to be armed to the teeth when they’d set sail from Cleggan and Roonaugh.
Would the Mayos feel that the trend had been reversed and there’d be Galways flooding across the border at Shrule taking our jobs. And our best men and wimmen. And parking spots?
And were there implications for Trading Blocs in the poitin trade across Connemara now that the Mayos had to go across Galway land to get to the now Mayo-ed ‘Bofin.
In the end, it came to nothing. ‘Bofin gots its good deal, a la Cameron. And they remained where they are. And everyone is happy. And maybe, just maybe, there’s a moral in that for anyone who is voting in the UK referendum this morning. Stay and fight for your corner and none of your auld strops.