Tents and tackles — the signs of summer

Probably most of our lives, we have lived unaware of the Signified and the Signifier of semiotics, so beloved by the linguist Saussure. But these theories espoused in those studies are what make life worth living, as they spark memory and association.

There are sights and sounds and smells which trigger memories in us all; that bring us to happy or sad places; that the mere mention of which floods our brain with overwhelming images of blue skies or dark winters.

One such signifier is the arrival of the blue tent in the heart of our city. Its construction after so many years absent represents a sort of return to normality, a normality that we welcome back tentatively given the warning this week by the Interim CMO that crowded places are still a hotbed of infection for Covid cases.

For those who were in Croke Park for the last two Sundays and who will travel in great numbers again this weekend, that great Colosseum-like roar that presaged each episode of play reminded them of a thing that was much missed, that sense of camera derie, of shared emotion, of tribalism lost. I was one of the fortunate/unfortunate who worked through that winter All-Ireland series of 18 months or more ago, and the contrast between a full Croke Park last weekend, and the dark depressing sight of an empty stadium with just a few dozen souls rattling around it will never leave me.

Competitions such as the championships and stadia like Croke Park are built for large crowds sharing and comparing loss and success, and greeting each one the same.

On that regard, we have much to look forward to — our minors here in the west will ensure that trophy stays in Connacht when they play a historic minor final v Mayo in Roscommon tomorrow night. Our elite-level camogie stars have already booked their place in the last four of their quest for back to back titles; our ladies footballers play Cork in a quarter final on Saturday while a few hours later, at teatime, Padraic Joyce’s quest to bring glory backs back to Galway football continue when they face Derry in a fascinating 50-50 semi-final.

Much to look forward to in maroon, but also in terms of arts and entertainment. Already this week sees the unique Galway Film Fleadh in full flight. It is the magic biting point at which the creatives meet those who handle the possible. So much great cinema and innovation has been made and will be made because of connections forged here in Galway. The ultimate speed-dating for an industry that does so much to sell an image of Ireland worldwide.

And then on Monday, the Galway Arts Festival returns...once again painting an image of Galway that will find its way into the briefcase of every IDA executive meeting international investors coming here to bring good clean jobs.

What a joy it is to be here.


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