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Race week — the turning of the year in Galway

Thu, Jul 30, 2015

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.

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It’s just like 2020 for Racingman

Thu, Jul 23, 2015

Sun rises in the capital of culture…ate a clock in the morning like...smartphone alarm beep beeps into me ear...one hand picks up and smashes it again the wall...not so smart now is it...where am I...recessed lights in ceiling shine into me eyes...discover me pyjamas have a hood in them… …and jeans…fell asleep in the clothes again...where am I...not Mrs O’Brien’s b & bloody b this year... no, not for me...fine room in wan of them gombeen hotels owned by NAMA for half nawthing...open shirt buttons and spray deodorant under arms and head for the lift...close buttons, push buttons and fella in the lift mirror does the same...full Irish with bacon rashers and eggs... throw back the lugs and dive in...lash back the orange juice...parched I am...try to walk sober like, wan foot then the udder, repeat...I’m Racingman, I’m wide out…I’m part of Galway. I’m its culture too. Don’t look down on me ‘cos I don’t know Chekhov or ballet… I’m Racingman…there’ll be racing in 2020 too, don’t forget…down the square check out paddys ladbrokes boyles muls get the odds... and ends... too early to go out yet...sit on bench and look at fountain knocked on for the few weeks…the trickle, they’d needn’t have bothered their...whole week I’m here for…sit on steps, legs sprawled…then light up, brighten up... wink at young wan heading to work down town, get scowl but scowl back at her... I’m in love, besotted, but she don’t know what’s she missing...missing in Racingman... me. the man. I’m a cultural ambassador…for Galway…I can be a culture icon…I light another... hand shakes but ‘twould by now anyways Wednesday and all... phone dying just two bars...head dying just 25 bars...need cash...act fast...shaky fingers dance on vomit-splattered keypad at hole in wall...good job don’t need numbers 3, 8, 2 as they’re splashed pretty bad... cash comes out crisp clean only gives 300 so go to other machine... clean pad, thick wad jammed in arse pocket but switch to front... can’t be too sure... cute hoor watching ya catching ya but not me. I’m wide out me so I am, sham ya have to get outa the scratcher early to catch out Racingman…some fecker murdering a violin in the Square...where’s Lee Harvey Oswald when ya need him...get the Racing Post...to look cool like…in the know…and the Star...dash into Debbinghams cosmetics section and when the wimmen aren’t looking over, Racingman is lost in a spraycloud of Calvin Kyne, Packie Rabanne and Ralph Lawrence eau de sweat…lash on the lot of them…the cognac combo….then a splash on ur hand to look like ya know your stuff…smelling grand...ready for the road...ready for the course...hop into taxi...sit in front…legs sprawled…talk the talk…big head on him...air stinks of air freshener and stale conversation...he tells me country is fecked...emigrants should shag off home…to Mayo…taking our wimmen, can’t get jobs…and he’s from Lagos...three ways to racecourse...green, blue and red routes…an hour later we take a bit of blue and red and he drops me in a cowshit-spattered field near Castlegar church...walk that way he says... the brown route...and I walk...better now…some wan gave me an I Back Galway sticker… I’m the man for that…2020 vision and all that...go to ring the boys but smartphone still smarting from batin’ I gave it. Must be an app for that...see the stand ahead…the Killannin wan…walk straight...shoes covered in dung...sham says ‘any wan want to try the three card trick the three card trick, watch out Char-less the shades are lamping the scene’... don’t fall for that not after last year not me cos I’m wide out...Racingman won’t fall for that...this year...in the gate...meet yer man from home he waves and says he knows a fella who knows Weld is the man…and he blesses himself when he mentions how he’ll miss Dessie Hughes lord have mercy on dessie…get card and biro...rip page from card and jam in raffle drum to win another shaggin’ night in another gombeen hotel...always been lucky, mother said, when I won the teddy bear at the sale of work but she didn’t know I stole it then sold it then stole it again...Guard nods at me I nod back ‘howya guard’ what does he know... probably has a file on Racingman... the big happy Templemore head on him and eyes red-out from reading Pulse all night…met the boys... the boys from home...lads shout yahoo at Ted Walsh and some others... twenty years since he rode her mother...run to the stand... spilling plastic pints down new Next shirt, it’ll live up to its name tomorrow...horse romps home...plastic pints go skywards...beef sandwiches all round... grease is the next stain for the Next shirt... Lads have quare wans’ mobile numbers… they want 200 notes for an hour of the bould thing... lads laugh when I ask for group discount...an hour I laugh, an hour of drinking time wasted...she says for 400 she’ll bate me with a whip til I cry and give me a happy ending…told her I can get a batin’ for nawthing outside the chipper…and if I want a happy ending, I can watch Frozen…and the lads laugh…I know my culture…and then the streets...Latin Quarter with not a word of latin on me…nil desperandum and all that…from wan pub to another…with the boys…Racingman’s head’s in a spin...time for food...tuna melt with extra dolphin...staggered up the pedestrianised streets, avoiding the bikes and the rickshaws, like fecking Tianaman Square ‘tis...hops into taxi and shows him card from hotel...Lagos man again......more stale conversation...he’s up from Carlow with all the other taxidrivers...drives me around town nine times and then drops me back at gombeen hotel where room was chayper than taxi...birds are singing when me head hits the bed...zzzzzzzzzzzzz..ate a clock...smartphone about to beep its alarm, but decides not to...now that’s a smart phone...still only Thursday morning…but I love it. I love Race Week, part of my culture…part of what we are…there’ll be racing in 2021 as well...never forget...

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With nips in the air and a spring in our step

Thu, Jul 16, 2015

There’s an auld Irish saying that me great granny used to say as she chewed a sod of turf on the days the baccy ran out, spitting it out across a room and nearly taking the head off the cat sat dozing on the range. “  And as the cat ran yelping around the room and headfirst into the fire, she’d gawk at me and say “Geraldine…” (She always called me Geraldine) “Níl an samhradh tagtha go dtí go n-eitlíonn pearóid ilsineach os cionn na feirme i mí Iúil” And as I’d rush to the focloir to make out what the focloir she was saying to me, I saw what her line meant “

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Greek arts minister’s lasting legacy

Thu, Jul 09, 2015

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”–Steve Jobs, in introducing the iPad 2 in 2011.

In a world dominated by technology which shapes nearly every aspect of our lives, we are blessed  in Galway that the arts remain very much at the heart of  Galway - and there are few cities that can claim such similar vibrancy.

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You can never do too much for Galway Hospice

Thu, Jul 02, 2015

You can never do too much for Galway Hospice. Never. Ever. No donation is ever too big. Ever. You could get your granny, stick a price tag on her, photograph her, put her on eBay and it still wouldn't be too big a gesture. You could wait for your team to get to an All-Ireland final and you could raffle your tickets and give the money to the Hospice and it still wouldn’t be too big. You could walk naked up The Reek using slippers made out of porcupines and a thong knitted from the roughest wool of the rarest goat and if you said you were doing it for Galway Hospice, nobody would dare say you were mad. They’d nod, and say ‘fair play to ya. Mighty cause, mighty.”

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No country for old men (First printed January 2014)

Sun, Jun 28, 2015

In theory, home is where we all should feel the safest. It should be a refuge for all of us lucky to have a place to call home. It is the place where you can truly be yourself, far away from the pretence of modern life where, as characters in the great play of life, you learn your lines and your role before you walk out each day to act out your part.

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A light of hope for our walled-in people

Thu, Jun 25, 2015

He walks the streets of the city with his friends. Down Shop Street. Having the laugh. The fun. And he feels part of it all. And they talk about music and Messi. And for a short while every school day he feels part of this city, a cast member in the show that is Galway. And they listen to buskers. And haul their schoolbags on their backs. And tease each other. But when he gets to the part where he has to go in a different direction, there is a kind of awkwardness that eschews words. They know where he's going back to and he knows where they are headed. He knows because he has seen their homes, he has gone to their streets and been at their houses. Proper homes with doors and rooms. He wishes he could bring them back to where he lives. He wishes that he could be proud of where he lives, but there is nothing to be proud of. His family don't own it, nor did they pick it themselves. And then Mother and Father are always around. But not because they want to be.

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Country feels pain at dimming of our brightest generation

Thu, Jun 18, 2015

Country feels pain at dimming of our brightest generation

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Let us all do one thing to make 2020 a reality

Thu, Jun 11, 2015

The bid to make Galway the European Capital of Culture in 2020 is not some sort of raffle. Would it be that it were, then we could all wake up 'the morning after' in a crumpled heap, say either well done to ourselves through a foggy dew of Sauvignon Blanc, strangers and snackboxes, or just say 'shucks, that was a blast, but sure it's the luck of the draw,” and get back to living our lives. If it was simply a matter of throwing the names of the candidate cities into a hat, then you could console yourself for not having done more, for not sharing your vision with anyone, for not taking this once in a generation opportunity to actually have your say in something that will determine the destiny of this city for the next 100 years.

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The role of consent in preventing sexual assault and discrimination

Thu, Jun 04, 2015

When evaluating the liberations and empowerment of modern sexual mores, the issue of consent is one that is often ignored by the participants. Often consent is confused with empowerment on both genders.

This weeks, tens of thousands of students are sitting exams that will bring them out in the wider world. Many of them away rfom home for the first time. It is a bright new world, full of opportunities both positive and negative.

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Game of Thrones as councillors get childish over seats

Thu, May 28, 2015

There is something about the smell of new carpet that drives us all daft. Or the whiff of a freshly vacuumed office. Or the dying aroma of the last coat of paint that has been applied over some wall. There’s a reason that a new car smell adds a few grand to the price of your car.

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Vote for the love of your country and its people

Thu, May 21, 2015

Tomorrow when we will all hopefully go to the polls, we do so to take part in the drafting of a powerful statement into how we want this country to be. On both sides, there is a desire for a result that will copperfasten a way of thinking. And there is no doubt that whatever result is announced at the national count centre on Saturday evening, it will send out a powerful message about what this country sees as its direction.

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Referendum campaign brought back all my old fears says city woman

Thu, May 21, 2015

I have just finished reading the Ursula Halligan article. My tears fall onto the page as old wounds, old pain, old shame resurface. Her story is amazingly similar to mine! Astonishingly so, in fact.

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Isn’t it time we stopped killing dogs?

Thu, May 07, 2015

See the picture with this article? It shows about 50 dogs. Not rabid strays. Not unkempt mongrels. All of these dogs in this photo were rescued by MADRA from being “put to sleep” in April alone. In Galway. That’s just one month. If you look at the picture again and double it, what you will see is the approximate number of dogs that are put to sleep in our city pound each year. Funded by ourselves. A sad indictment that so many animals abandoned through no fault of their own have to be killed, no matter how humanely the process is described or how Disneyified the ‘put to sleep” scenario sounds. Bottom line is Fido doesn’t wake up.

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And us with the big happy heads on us...

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

I remember about a decade or more ago sticking my notebook under the nose of the then Health Minister Michael Noonan, when he was in Castlebar opening the hospital or something and asking him a question about something health related for the Galway area. And in the way he had about him back then, in the days before he was canonised, he cocked an eye and said to me “Right sonny, you're here from a Goll-way paper. This is not a day for Goll-way. Today is Mayo's day, not Goll-way's day.”

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Thousands are sailing — from death, into death

Thu, Apr 23, 2015

In the end it came fast…. but slow. The screams from up on board overtaken by the roar of the waters breaking through the entrances filling the space about their feet. And as that cold water rushed into that dark space, they knew that death was creeping up on them. Death they had left behind, they thought. When that boat pulled away from the shore, as they were herded on as darkness approached, they took one last look at the land behind them, a land where they knew mainly death. Where they were numbed by it, stunned by it. Driven to risk death by it. One face of death roaring at them, rushing them towards a meeting with the same fear.

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Forty-five years on and still delivering

Thu, Apr 16, 2015

The Galway Advertiser celebrates its 45th birthday today, April 16, 2015. The paper first appeared on April 16, 1970 - an eight-page edition with a print run of 7,000.

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Let the sunshine continue and enjoy the walk

Thu, Apr 09, 2015

Whether it is Galway city, Oranmore, Claregalway, or Moycullen, traffic delays have become part and parcel of our transport system over the last number of years. And it is expected to worsen this week in an effort to get better - or that's what we all hope.

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Food — now everybody’s eating it

Thu, Apr 02, 2015

Gone are the days when food was something other people ate. Now everyone is atin’ it. We never had food when we were growing up. We just had Da Breakfast, Da Dinner and Da Tay. Da Supper was just cocoa and the odd biscuit. Food was something we saw in magazines on plates the likes of which you'd only take out for the Yanks as part of the ‘let's pretend we're something we're not’ annual campaign, when we'd sip tay, sorry tea out of blue willow cups with dainty fingers. And then we'd cover the table with food the likes of which we'd never ate and the likes of which they'd never ate and we'd depart then each thinking the other had the oddest taste in food ever.

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Welcome in the summer by being active for ACT

Thu, Mar 26, 2015

Ok, so you’re losing an hour in bed this weekend, but sure if you didn’t know about it, you’d probably stay up late anyway wasting an hour doing things and eating things you shouldn’t. But how about challenging yourself to give up an hour or so and get back something much greater in return.

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