Je suis Galway, Je suis Connacht

On Sunday Connacht Rugby will host English premiership side Exeter in their final European pool fixture this season - another massive task for the Irish province against a side favoured to win the tournament overall. However if Connacht have proved anything this year - despite a hiccup last weekend - is that they possess an x-factor, particularly at home. That x-factor is neither a Robbie Henshaw nor a Mils Muliaina - though they do make a massive contribution - but a philosophy coach Pat Lam has been developing - it is what he calls the Connacht "culture".

Lam's definition of culture is relationships - the bonds, the friendship, the interaction, a mutual sense of camaraderie, and an absolute togetherness of a squad of players who will play for each other and support each other through tough games, narrow defeats, and Munsterfying wins. It is a philosophy that is a strong motivational tool, and, with continuing positive results, should also continue to foster growing numbers of supporters who can identify with the club.

While more often than not culture has come to mean a shared way of life - in language, customs, food, sports, etc, it is that sense of Lam's cultural togetherness that has manifested itself globally this week as billions have embraced the slogan Je Suis Charlie, both in support of media freedom and the sheer horror of the recent attacks in Paris. We are in solidarity with the millions who took to the streets of Paris and around the world in opposition to such a reprehensible act, while also reminding ourselves that we have a duty to ensure all sides of stories are covered whether we agree or not, without deliberately insulting readers.

Our cultural togetherness has helped produce a vibrant city in which we take pride and enjoyment, but too often it is only evident in times of difficulty. This week as the weather has taken another wintry turn for the worse, many Galwegians will face some tough times - not just on the roads where motorists are being urged to take care, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, but those most vulnerable, the elderly and the homeless. Wear a placard around your neck for Charlie by all means, but also remember those closest to you.

Linley MacKenzie


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