Six long seconds.
Six of the longest seconds you could ever imagine.
And then he lifted the envelope and said….
And everything erupted.
Chairman Steve Green milked the moment. He dragged it out. To be fair, he had a fine soothing voice. A voice that could deliver good news or disappointment with equal comfort.
“The City of…….”
Thousands were tuning into our social media from around the globe. The messages poured in. ‘Get on with it. It’s lunchtime, it’s teatime, it’s dinnertime, it’s the middle of the night,” they implored from their various locations around the globe. Singapore, Perth, Toronto, Southampton, France. Yeas, even France. On this saddest of days.
And they yelped and yahooed and cried and then went back to work, to bed, to dinner.
Went back happy, with a pep in their step.
Galway had won.
Outside of the other candidates, everybody wanted Galway to win, because it deserved to.
I wrote here this week that Galway had the best bid, it had the best content, and it had the most potential, because it was a template for success being put down on an appetite that already exists for culture in Galway.
And in the last few days, there was a nervousness about the bid, the fear that political intervention would play a factor, because if it would, we were banjaxed, as we were playing solely on our merits. Strong merits.
And they climb back onto the bus.
Still not believing.
Heading towards the sun, down the motorway.
Heading to where the fun is, to where they would be feted.
Like a young captain of an All-Ireland team, they found themselves climbing the steps to collect the prize.
They thought, just like that young captain would think ten minutes before the end of an All-Ireland, that they had a good chance of climbing those steps, but that there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip….
They travelled with a strong bid book, with tricks up their sleeve, with their Virtual Reality headsets and their bits of magic strewn here and there.
And their dedication and hopes.
I think of the old lady who went into the office to tell them that Kilkenny and Limerick wanted this as well. How is she feeling now? Mightily proud.
And our team put her in their heads when they went in to bat for the west. They walked in like a group who had just won an argument. They went in emboldened.
Because they knew that thousands and thousands of people back west were willing them on, sending them energy and confidence.
And when the judges travelled west, they saw that the engagement had worked, that people knew about it. That it mattered to them.
When Brendan McGrath came west, he saw before him a vast canvas. He saw the immense potential that exists within Galway city and county and he vowed to deliver titles. Silverware. And he has — Gastronomic regions, UNESCO City of Film, the Purple Flags, and now the biggie.
He’s proven himself the Mourinho of management.
And with the County Council on board, we had a winning formula.
I always felt that a combination of the pragmatism of the county councillors and the fiery craziness of the city councillors might deliver a synergy that would work.
Failure to capitalise on Galway’s potential has oft frustrated me over the years, but at last we have a manager who wants to do things and says “why not, rather than why should we?”
And while I shed a tear from the joy of it all, sitting here on a Friday afternoon, my heart cannot leave the image of the doll lying on the prom in Nice.
And so with every beat of my heart at the news about Galway, I feel the blackness of the evil that saw little children mowed down while enjoying culture.
We combat evil like this, not with guns and bombs, but with the positive recognition and appreciation of difference.
The Capital of Culture will play its part in that.
Well done to our team. I finished my editorial this week with the line “bring it home, bring it home.”
And you have.
See you first thing Monday morning. The hard work starts now.