When darkness falls across the city tomorrow night, there will be one perceptible change to the night landscape that has been lacking for some time. The night sky over the city will be illuminated by those four beacons of light that will beam down on perhaps the finest football surface in the league of Ireland. And when the sharp shrill of the whistle goes at 7.45pm it will bring to an end one saga for Galway sport and start off what is hoped will be a major rejuvenation of sporting pride in the region.
The evolution of Galway FC has been well documented and will not be reprised here. But whatever the rights and wrongs, the ifs and the buts, soccer fans of the former Galway United were made to spend far too many nights watching the Late Late when they would have much preferred to be walking up the Dyke Road to see our best take on the best from other parts of the country.
Over the next few months, a considerable amount of public money will be spent on making some very practical changes to our council chambers. In County Hall, the price of a house is being set aside to make room for the nine extra councillors who will take their seats there for the first meeting in June. Across the city in City Hall, the councillors will be asked to shed a few pounds and a few euro to make room for the slightly more respectable additional number of three councillors who will be elected to the new council.
So what will all these candidates bring to these enlarged tables? Are they there because they are someone's brother or sister or daughter or friend? Are they there because they have been loyal to the party? Are they there because they have been good at something else entirely different and someone somewhere thought it would be good idea if they ran for the council? Are they there because they have been there before and ‘musha shure the place wouldn't be the same without them?” Are they there merely because they are male or because they are female? Of course nobody is going to admit to any of the above, but if these are merely the reasons they are there, they are doing a disservice to the community to which they swear allegiance.
Every so often in this country, someone comes out with a great speech or a great piece of writing that strikes a note with the mood of the nation. We have seen examples of this at the inauguration of several presidents; we have heard many speeches deep in the bowels of the Hogan Stand when victorious captains verbalise the feelings of a county. We hear the voice of Donal Walsh reaching out to a whole generation, imploring it to value life in the way that he did; we read the words of Conor Cusack talking about the realities of being depressed at an age when people think you have the whole world at your feet. These were voices and speeches that resonated and meant something to a great many people, so much so that the nation’s media published and broadcast them so that their message would reach as wide an audience as possible.
And while alas as a Mayoman, it was not in the bowels of the Hogan Stand that I heard the latest piece that moved me, it was nonetheless constructed and delivered by a fellow townperson of mine. A few weeks ago, Rory O’Neill gave a television interview that he could have had no idea would generate the debate it has. During the interview, he referred to an organisation and some individuals whom he felt were less than generous in their attitude towards homosexuality. They took offence at what he said, resulting in a legal settlement with RTE that we’re all paying for.