John F Kennedy might have said that on a clear day you can see Boston, but from tomorrow evening, we're nearer Berlin than Boston. Just when you're thinking where has the year gone since you sank your teeth into your last kangaroo burger, the Galway Continental Not So German But Full of Foreign Crusty Types Anyway Incontinence Christmas Market is upon us yet again.
It seems like only yesterday that we were tucking into Skippy on a Skewer burgers or drinking copious amounts of Hund Pischen Bavarian beers while pretending to be so terribly cosmopolitan. But for the last week, an army of muscled men, their manly biceps rippling have been banging away with their tools, working on the biggest erection in the city centre. And faster than you could say 'I hope they don’t make a shite of the grass this year', they have transformed the extra average mundanity of the square into a Bavarian village, well, a Bavarian village that sells dead Australian mammals, French breads and geansais from God knows where. One wonders do the Bavarian have Continental Irish village markets where there's one pub and a few drunk drivers and a local hotel in NAMA?
Whereas for years we meagre West of Ireland folks have felt that Christmas was merely peering through the windows at Moons or waving at the waving Santa on the third floor of the Treasure Chest, now we feel positively European, as we stroll besotted hand in hand with our loved ones. Or somebody else's loved ones - and titter at the wonder of it all. How come this wonderful square, a monument to concreted blandness brought to you by the people who brought us Irish Water, can be transformed into something so utterly beautiful and emotion stirring. You can sit on the steps, creeping up behind your betrothed with a cup of hot chocolate, with the smell of the traditional Irish chocolate fountain and the overflowing pork sandwiches within nose-shot, and watch as the parked and ridden hordes stream from miserly looking buses into this fest for the senses. Listen to their 'jaysusmarywouldyalookatthe stateofthis” refrains as they get lost on the maze that is Eyre Square on a November evening.
Sit down a la Patrick Kavanagh and watch as the new bike scheme bikes takes flight.
"The rented bicycles go by in two and threes, there's a kangaroo roast in Billy Byrne's barn tonight."
Stare at the wonderful Nativity crib with the propellor on top – the sort of HeliFamily Helicopter, which if it had been around in the time of the birth of Christ would have been much handier for the Three Wise Men who would know that what they saw wasn't a star but the tailgate of Jesus's helicopter.
Get ready for weeks of foreign geansais suitable for elves and stern Russian nuns selling you little figurines formed from the underarm sweat of the prisoners in the Siberian gulags.I feel compelled to buy from the Russian nuns lest they throw back their habits, revealing suspender-clad legs from which they pull a hub-nosed Walther pistol, point it at me and say "Buy our Siberian sheeet or die you foreeen peeg."
Also engage in the purchase of memorabilia such as the Occupy Galway Eau du Toilette with a whiff of decadance and austerity. The penicillin stalls “for the Man Who Has Everything”; the festive Viagra stalls (purely to keep the tents up ).
Yes Galway comes to life in a big Miracle on 34th Street sort of way for the next month. Get into your cars, get on your horses, hire your hireable bikes – do what you have to do to get here because this is where it's happening. And when you're here, stroll through the whole town, savour the sights and keep your business in Galway....