Get ready for a nasty election campaign

Thu, Oct 08, 2015

So this is it. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Stop the dog from barking, with a juicy bone.  Cancel all those pesky appointments, for the election is in sight. Silence the pianos, and with a muffled drum, let us move forward with the end of November in sight. This is the Most Important Election since…. the last Most Important Election four years ago.

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Time to stop pussyfooting around the doggie dilemma

Thu, Oct 01, 2015

Roll back about a month when we were in the throes of preparing for the hurling final and when our heads were full of thoughts of history and success and homecomings and of the McCarthy Cup being hauled around every primary school in the county.

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Let’s get creative about this

Thu, Sep 24, 2015

One of the 5k races I ran in early summer was at Galway Airport. It was one of those rare nice Tuesday nights, when almost a thousand runners ran around the edges of  the runway, around and around, running one way towards Boston and then the other way towards Brussels — and when you are labouring up one length of the runway and then down the other end, you get a view of the place that only a few have ever had.  Normally you were only air-side of the terminal if you were embarking and disembarking. On this evening, we all had a privileged view of a facility that was crying out to be loved again.

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O Conaire statue — an icon that straddles old and new Galway

Thu, Sep 17, 2015

Even though parents and grandparents would have you believe that there was no gallivanting in their days and that there was no sex in Ireland before Wanderly Wagon, there isn’t a house in Ireland that doesn’t have a fading greying naturally sepia-tic photograph of Granny draped erotically around the shoulders of Padraic O Conaire, the statue, not the man. 

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Absorb the creation of memories

Thu, Sep 03, 2015

It’s all about time. Everything is. Days, hours, minutes, seconds, years. Time plays such a key role in how we create memories, about how we anticipate them. We use and abuse time in so many ways. We rush from A to B to get there a minute early, then waste many minutes doodling or daydreaming when we get to B.  We place value on time and then deride that value. 

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Galwegians must utilise chance to have their say

Thu, Aug 27, 2015

A significant step in reviewing local government in Galway - that could see a merger between Galway city and county councils  - has been taken with the completion of a report  into various options to deliver high quality services in our area.

The five member committee, appointed by the Minister for Local Government, Alan Kelly, has spent six months meeting stakeholders, examining submissions, and looking at overseas examples based on several options  - no change, a boundary extension to the city, radical shared services, and a full merger.

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Let your blood run maroon for September

Thu, Aug 20, 2015

It was just a few seconds but it seemed like an eternity. The gap between the winning point and the final whistle last Sunday. It was just enough time for a large hand to go through through your ribcage, grab your heart and shake it all about. That shrill of a whistle unleashed a primal scream within all Galway people. Yes, it was just the semifinal. Yes, nothing has been won. Yet. But it was the culmination of a summer of hope, of a quarter-century of hope that one day, that hope might turn to reality. Within minutes of the whistle, we posted this picture of Anthony Cunningham up on our social media. It was a pic that summed up the feeling and passion of every Galway supporter. That on a difficult afternoon when defeat could so easily have been the outcome, when your dreams were kicked and dashed and then reignited, that perseverance and heroism paid off and a final place was secured.

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Architecture is music, frozen in time — Let’s hit the right note

Thu, Aug 13, 2015

Buildings a city make.  The places in our minds are shaped by the environment they occupy. When we think of cities, our mind is drawn to the concrete and the steel, the glass and the tall, the divided and the small. The built environment has shaped our perception of the last 200 years.

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Rediscover the sheer joy of running

Thu, Aug 06, 2015

I’ve always loved running. I love looking down and seeing my feet have a race with each other to see which gets somewhere before the other. I love the swishness of being able to balance on two legs and move fast and not fall over. The best part of being a kid is that you can run anywhere, up town, down the street, to the shop. When I was a Mass server, I used to run the mile to the church and run back. I always ran to school. And ran faster coming home. Much faster. I love to run because basically walking never gets me where I want to go fast enough. And if you walk too fast, it’s a look that's just a little too John Inman… And when you get older and enter adulthood, running in the streets is not so cool. Because we become so conscious of what we are doing and what people might think, as if running is an immature thing to do. If a guy is seen running now in town, it’s because there’s more likely a shop security guard running 50 yards behind him. Or a pickpocket 50 yards ahead. At least that’s my experience, your honour.

We’ve relegated the joy of simply running to times when we’re kitted out for it in skinhugging lycra that says plainly “This Man Is Running. It’s Ok. He’s Not Mad. Really. Ok Just a Bit Then.” We squeeze into running gear with luminous stripes and colourful runners to clearly signify that we are running because we want to. That we are conforming. That I am running because this is running gear. For running in. OK?

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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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 the 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 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 to the stand... spilling plastic pints down new Next shirt, it’ll live up to its name 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 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 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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