John Gallen writes:
View from Oranmore Road of Galway Bay… or some part of it :)
Galway fans celebrating their side’s All-Ireland final victory under the Cusack Stand at Croke Park on Sunday (left to right): Conall McGarrigle, Mura Tierney, Micheal O Tiarnaigh, Karen Reen, Ciaran Tierney (author), Reamonn Canavan, and Orna Canavan.
Ciaran Tierney writes:
I was a young student, squatting in London, the last time Galway won the Liam McCarthy Cup and I consoled myself that there would be plenty more September victories when I declined my father’s offer of a ticket and a fare home.
Our team was the best in Ireland and I figured there were plenty more glory days ahead, so I delayed my return home for a winter of studies at NUI Galway.
I thought of the old man, aged over 90 now, presumably shedding a few tears at home in Galway City.
He brought me to Croke Park when I could barely walk and, as an adult, I used to curse him for this strange, seemingly fatal, and beautiful addiction which can arise such passion on summery Sunday afternoons.
He had followed the team long before I was born, with the same sort of fatal pessimism which was common to our Tribe until about 5pm on Sunday.
I remembered 1980. My brother and I were small boys, held aloft by crying adults amid the din of seeing our side become triumphant for the first time in 57 years. Those tears made a lot more sense now, after so many years of heartbreak of our own.
My brother and I had been to every final Galway had lost since a youthful Conor Hayes bounded up the stairs to collect the Liam McCarthy back in 1988.
Galway didn’t score a goal, again, but it didn’t matter when we had such supreme marksmen scattered around the field. They tested our nerves by letting in two goals, but was it ever going to be any other way.
In my previous life as a sports reporter, I had been to many All-Ireland finals. But this was different. I had watched Kilkenny and Cork teams pick up the Cup with the casual appearance of people who were out for an afternoon shopping trip.
But what’s rare is wonderful and, all around us, people in maroon were shedding tears of joy…
…I thought of friends in London, Sydney, New York, Vietnam, and Brazil, and how joyful they must have been at that very moment, crammed into Irish bars in their maroon jerseys at all sorts of hours. Few things can unite our global diaspora like an All-Ireland final.
I thought of men like Ollie Canning, Joe Rabbitte, Eugene Cloonan, Kevin Broderick, and Damien Hayes, so many brilliant Galway hurlers who had put their hearts and souls into winning that elusive Celtic Cross. And, as I looked out towards the Hill and the emotional outpouring all around me on the Cusack Stand, there was no shame in our tears.
And nobody wanted to leave. Why would they, when we had been waiting for 29 long years? Those of us who remembered the glory days of 1987 and 1988 were reminded of our mortality, while the youngsters singing on the Hill must have felt they’d never see those kind of days.
It wasn’t just a victory, it was something wondrous achieved with such class both on and off the field.
To have a captain like David Burke, a man who battled back from injury and knew the pain of losing finals, step forward to collect the cup on behalf of the maroon hordes.
What a magnificent speech he produced, to remember the late Tony Keady, Man of the Match in 1988 and a man who had roared on among us just a few short weeks ago during the semi-final win over Tipperary.
He hoped that the win would give Tony’s wife and children just a little comfort in the midst of their grief, just as the fans had risen en masse to salute their former centre-back six minutes into the game.
What a wondrous gesture to remember the late Niall Donoghue, whose tragic passing in 2013 devastated an entire rural community. In the absolute joy of what once seemed an impossible victory, he reminded us all of the need to look after our mental health.
What a wonderful platform he used to raise this issue in front of hundreds of thousands of TV viewers. Even at the happiest moment of his life, he gave a shout out to those who struggle with demons and the organisations, like Pieta House, who provide wonderful help in the darkest of times.
There’s a lot wrong with Galway GAA – I know too many loyal fans who failed to get tickets for the final – but our young sportsmen did us so proud on Sunday afternoon.
Down on the pitch, our 28-year old ‘superstar’ showed the kind of humility he never gets enough credit for as he embraced Margaret during his captain’s speech.
Without Joe Canning, Galway would never have reached this final and now the nay-sayers can no longer slag off the most gifted player of his generation for not having that elusive All-Ireland medal.
Did he bask in the glory? Of course he did. But he took time out to hug the newly bereaved widow, shared a tear with his parents at the front of the stand, and embraced children with special needs long before he made his way back to the dressing-room.
Such class from a young man who has faced far too much derision and begrudgery since his phenomenal talent began to generate headlines a decade ago.
The Galway hurling community is very much like a big family and the family rallied around the Keady family with absolute class throughout the weekend.
It would have been the perfect weekend if the GAA could sort out the ticketing arrangements which somehow leave some genuine supporters out in the cold.
The single mum from East Galway who takes her son to every game or the club hurler in the city who only missed the final deserve better than the people who attended their first and only game of the year on Sunday.
It was embarrassing to note that Galway fans were outnumbered about 4-1 by their Wexford counterparts at the Leinster final in early July.
Too many Irish sports fans tend to jump on bandwagons and it seems hugely unfair that so many tickets for the showpiece occasion of the year don’t go to the people who actually go out and support the teams in the earlier rounds.
Having said that, the Galway team of 2017 conducted themselves with absolute class, both on and off the pitch, throughout the weekend.
What a moment of pure emotion it was to see their wonderful manager Micheal Donoghue embrace his father, Miko, after bringing the Liam McCarthy Cup across the Shannon for the first time in 29 years.
Micheal surrounded himself with a wonderful backroom team and instilled the kind of self-belief in his players which has been lacking in Galway teams for much of the past three decades.
It was a wonderful championship. My favourite memory of all was of the three Tipperary supporters who embraced us and wished us well for the final in the Upper Hogan Stand at the end of a thrilling semi-final in August.
So magnanimous in defeat, such worthy All-Ireland champions, I thought to myself as I remembered that I used to “hate these guys” when Tony Keady was at his pomp back in the 1980s.
Hatreds can disappear with time, old enemies can embrace and share their love of a brilliant game, and sometimes even the bridesmaids can become champions.
Thank you, Galway hurlers, for filling an entire county with wonder, joy, and pride. And for showing us that some tales of woe and heartbreak really can have wondrous endings when you mix in belief, hard work, and skill.
The West has awoken from its slumber and the new dawn is a joy to behold.
Ciaran Tierney is a journalist, blogger, and digital storyteller, based in Galway
From top: Two people sleep rough on Salthill promenade in Galway earlier this year; journalist Ciaran Tierney
Last month, the Cope Galway claimed 50 people were sleeping rough in Galway while there were also 50 homeless families, including up to 100 children, and 45 “single person” households in emergency accommodation in Galway city on any given night.
Ciaran Tierney writes:
The mood was sombre as we left the ground. Galway United had just lost a crucial game to a last minute goal from Dublin club Shamrock Rovers and the unseasonable drizzle matched the mood of the home fans for the walk back to the city centre.
It was the first Friday night in months that Eamonn Deacy Park was in darkness as we left the ground following a home game and the shortening days seemed to bring grim tidings of a long winter to come for the city’s soccer club.
Relegation was beckoning and suddenly, given the biting wind and incessant drizzle, optimism was in short supply.
I normally drive to Galway United games and park my car across the river at NUI Galway. On this night, though, I had brought a group of 22 students from Mexico, Switzerland, Spain, and Brazil to the SSE League game, where they had revelled in the atmosphere and the quality of the football, if not quite the result for the home side.
So I zipped up my jacket and braced myself for the 15-minute walk into the wind and rain, towards the city centre where I had arranged to meet an old friend in a pub.
What I didn’t expect to discover was that a whole new “neighbourhood” had popped up in my city, barely ten minutes away from Eyre Square and the pedestrian heart of the city.
The Dyke Road is really green at this time of year, a bush-lined roadway between the soccer ground and the heart of the city.
To our right, amid the overgrown bushes, a number of discarded sleeping bags caught my eye. I had ignored them earlier, given the logistics of arranging match tickets for 22 foreign language students, but now I was in no particular hurry as I made my way back into town.
I heard some voices coming from behind the bushes. Someone, unseen, called out to me from just metres away.
Curious now, I stopped and peered in through a gap in the bushes. A man of about my own age approached me.
I asked him politely what he was doing there and he told me this was his “home”. Leaving the road for a few minutes, I walked in through the bushes and discovered a makeshift village of six or seven of the kind of cheap tents you can buy for €25 or €30 in one of the discount supermarkets.
He told me that there were a dozen people living there and I felt ashamed that I knew nothing about this makeshift “community” which had popped up just ten minutes from the heart of my city.
I asked him if he was alright and told him I didn’t smoke when he asked me politely for a cigarette. There seemed to be a look of resignation in his weather-beaten face and despair in his quiet voice as I surveyed his appalling living conditions for just a few brief moments.
This was Galway in 2017, the kind of place the tourists never see, and it made me wonder how many other people scattered throughout the margins of my city were living in similar conditions just minutes from prying eyes.
How many were sleeping on friends’ couches or in their cars because the hostels were full? How safe did these people feel, sleeping in tents so near to the city’s main thoroughfare?
And so I walked on into the city centre, where my friend had arranged to meet for a post-game drink before driving home to his small town an hour from Galway.
With him was another man I had met once or twice before. Also about my own age, he began to question me urgently about the rental situation in the city.
On strong medication for the past decade, the man is desperately seeking a change. He wants to move out of the small town where he can’t find any employment opportunities, where he feels trapped, but feels he is stuck in limbo and can’t move on with his life.
He has battled mental health problems for a long time and now feels it’s time to move on. He would love to get a job in the city, to have something akin to a normal life, and I can see despair on his face when I tell him it costs about €350 per month now to rent a room in my city.
How could he afford that? he wondered. How could he get a job when a decent place to live is beyond his means?
He wants to live a fruitful, meaningful life, but he’s in a spiral of unemployment and broken dreams, surrounded by people in the same predicament as him. Although he barely knows me, he confides that he’s trying desperately to get off medication and that it has hampered his ability to regain control of his life.
I feel bad. I feel as though I’m destroying his dream, even with a brief little chat about the rental situation in my city. And I wonder how hard he would struggle to return to the jobs market, given how the medication has “numbed” him out for years now.
I feel desperately sad to see how sad he is about his prospects of getting a job or a flat in Galway. The “half-way house” he lives in is keeping him off the streets, which he is thankful for, but things most of us take for granted (a job, independence, a girlfriend) seem totally beyond his reach.
Surely, in 2017, “numbing” people out of pain because they have had mental health difficulties in the past is just not good enough. Especially if they really want to make changes in their lives.
I feel apologetic as we bid our goodbyes.
I’m not drinking tonight, as I left my car in Salthill an hour before the football game. So I take my leave after almost two hours in the pub and make my way through the city centre.
In Forster Street, there are bodies huddled in doorways, beside some of the city’s busiest and most trendy pubs. Their faces covered under hoods, people have laid their sleeping bags out as they prepare for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
In Eyre Square, two young men in their early 20s shout loudly to each other as they urinate in full view of a group of appalled Swiss or German tourists. They are oblivious to the disapproving eyes.
I cross the road, where three young women are alighting loudly from a taxi. Already drunk, one of them clutches a drink in her right hand. Excited, perhaps, by the prospect of a night out in one of the city’s clubs, they shout loudly at each other. One of them racially abuses the cab driver before heading off into the night.
The driver glances at me for just a brief moment, shrugs, and drives off to pick up his next fare. His reaction seems to make it clear that this is not an isolated incident on a weekend night.
At the corner of Eglington Street, it seems there is a riot going on. Not to worry, it’s just a group of young people socialising loudly outside one of the city’s biggest bars.
I’m no prude. I used to love socialising in the city centre late at night in my 20s and 30s. But trying to walk by a large group of people who are clearly out of their minds with alcohol is no fun if you are completely sober and walking alone on a Friday night.
I turn down Shop Street, a place which tourists tell me they find scary in the early hours. The place is buzzing with activity, as young people make their way towards the city’s late night bars and clubs. It will be heaving again when the clubs empty out around 2.30am.
I have to admit I haven’t been here for a while in the early hours. On the city’s main thoroughfare, in the heart of the pedestrian zone, I’m quite shocked to see quite a few people bedding down in doorways on either side of the street.
A couple from Eastern Europe seem oblivious to the passing eyes as they argue loudly while laying out their sleeping materials for the night. Tomorrow, people will be drinking lattes right next to the place they now call “home” for the night.
Just 50 metres away, some poor woman is sleeping out on her own. I don’t want to appear too curious, to discover her nationality. A kindly passer-by is down on his knees, asking her if she is ok, and I wonder what circumstances led her to sleep in a shop doorway in my wet and windy city, of all places, in August 2017.
I wonder how she will sleep when the pubs empty out at 2 or 2.30am and the young revellers make their way to the fast food premises. Will she face verbal or physical abuse? It’s already cold and wet in August, but will she still be here in November when the conditions will be much worse?
How did it come to this? That a little makeshift village has sprung up within a ten minute walk of the city centre or that people have no option but to bed down in shop doorways through the night?
That young revellers now see it as “normal” to come across people lying outside under the elements as they make their way to and from the late night clubs?
This is Galway, in August 2017. We have just had an amazing festival season, yet the sad underbelly is impossible to ignore if you venture into the city at night.
Why isn’t there more of an uproar in a place where the City Council can devote an entire meeting to whether or not they should say a prayer before their monthly meetings?
Yes, I felt like a bit of a prude on Friday; or a little naïve, to have been so oblivious to the extent of the homelessness problem in my city right now.
But the City of the Tribes did not feel like the most welcoming place for everyone when viewed through sober eyes on a cold and wet Friday night.
A window broken at the Masjid Maryam mosque in Galway
Windows were broken at the Masjid Maryam mosque in Galway.
Further to this…
Imam Ibrahim Noonan, of the mosque, spoke to Áine Lawlor on RTÉ’s News at One.
During the interview, Mr Noonan said:
“It was [a really frightening event] because when the incident took place, we were actually in the middle of the prayers. I was leading the prayers, so we were actually engrossed within the prayers then suddenly we heard a massive loud bang and I continued to pray, I didn’t stop the prayers but you can imagine everybody, including myself, were probably having anxiety, about what was going on.
“So when we completed the prayer, we noticed our windows were being smashed, double-glazed windows so the stones went through those windows, and some of our young men ran outside, we told the ladies and others to remain within. And we found out, there were men, young men, about 20, running away from the mosque.
“And then we realised that they were attacking the mosque. And the sad thing is, they attacked the mosque knowing that we were praying. That was the sad thing about it, they knew that, they’re obviously watching us and whilst they were in the prayer, they decided to attack the mosque with stones.
“We’ve had incidents in the past where youths would come along and vandalise and be naughty as such. But this is definitely, in my opinion, an attack based upon what happened in Manchester and London.”
Listen back in full here
Pic: Imam Ibrahim Noonan
The River Corrib under the Wolfe Tone Bridge, Galway
Denise McNamara, in the Connacht Tribune, reports:
An 18-year-old girl who was rescued from the River Corrib following a suicide attempt, was then turned away from the Emergency Department at UHG.
Dripping wet from the attempted drowning at Wolfe Tone Bridge, she was assessed in the back of an ambulance by a triage nurse and was deemed unfit to be admitted to the hospital.
She kept insisting she would take her own life, so Gardaí brought her to a cell at Mill Street for her own safety.
When her father arrived to collect her from Galway Garda Station, she was still insisting that she would repeat the suicide attempt.
The pair then drove to the Emergency Department, where he pleaded with medical staff to admit his daughter due to her acute psychotic state. Staff refused, and she remained in a distressed and uncooperative state.
Samaritans: 116 123
Pieta House: 01 6010 000
Aware: 1890 303 302
Pic: Stan Carey
View of the fire in Cloosh Valley, Co Galway from 16,000 feet yesterday
As the fire service, army and air-corps continue to battle the fire in the Cloosh Valley near Oughterard, Co Galway which began on Sunday…
The Galway Advertiser reports:
The fire in Cloosh Valley near Oughterard, which has destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of forestry is believed to have originated from deliberately set gorse fires, which subsequently spread into Coillte owned forestry.
Pic: Irish Air Corps
Firefighters continue to tackle the fire at Cloosh Valley, near Oughterard in Co. Galway.
The Galway Advertiser writes:
“Two helicopters have been operating over the site since Sunday, and are using 1,200 litre capacity ‘bambi buckets’ to drop water to counter the flames…A quarter of the forest’s 4,000 hectare area has already been lost to the fire – or rather 30 individual fires which, together, are causing the extensive damage.
The fire also threatens Galway Wind Park, where the Republic’s biggest wind farm is currently under construction, with two of the 24 turbines erected on the site so far… the exact cause of the fire is not yet known.”
Photographs taken by Mul Mullarkey via The Galway Advertiser
Daithí – folk/electronica from Galway
What you may need to know…
01. Last time we checked in on Daithí, he’d been touring his recently-released extended-player, his first formal release as an independent artist.
02. Using elements of Irish pop-culture and music in his improvised, audiovisual live show, his work is another element in the modernisation of the trad/folk oeuvre.
03. Streaming above is the video for new single Aeroplane, featuring regular vocal collaborator Sinéad White. In his own words:
“Sinead and I wrote this song inspired by old Irish TV dramas from the ’80s and ’90s. True to the people of Ireland at the time, the characters in these shows all seem to have a hard time expressing their feelings, and we wanted to write a song that imagined what was going on in their heads, while they stumbled through talking to their love interest.
The video for the song uses footage from a short film that was shot in my home town Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, in the 1990s. The video stars real locals from the area, and deals with the hardships of being a bachelor in rural Ireland. I had completely forgot about it until I came across the tape in my parents’ house, and some of the footage is just incredible.”
04. This Friday, he plays the Roisín Dubh in Galway, followed by a Saturday night date in Dublin’s Opium Rooms and a Bank Holiday Sunday show at Cyprus Avenue in Cork. Check social media for more info/times.
Thoughts: More polished pop than jigs ‘n’ reels referencer, Daithí and Sinéad White’s thematic drawings on the Irish condition accompany an expansion of his sound.
Pic by Ruth Medjber
Field Trip – Galway garage-pop
What you may need to know…
01. Super-jangly garage-pop with C86 overtones are what Field Trip, a four-piece of Galwegian origin, is slinging.
03. Streaming above is the band’s most recent extended-player, Evening’s Over, released this past March via the band’s Bandcamp.
04. Catch them this Saturday for Record Store Day at The Record Spot/The R.A.G.E on Dublin’s Fade St., alongside a bunch of other bands and deejays.
Thoughts: Perfectly charming indie-laden pop with oodles of burnt-out atmosphere.