Monday 16 July 2012

Galway City is Frank and Shameless!

“The boats are gone.”
“Boats? What boats?”
“You know, the boats, the race, the world yacht racy round the planet boats. The reason why this place was packed like sperm inside a celibate last week. The reason we were crushed, mulched, drenched, squeezed dry and soaked again with all the drinking, and now they’re gone. The boats. The boats. They’re gone.”
“Oh right. Yeh, I noticed it was a bit mad round here last week, but sure enough d’yaknow, it’s just Galway. That’s what I said to myself. I said to myself I said ‘Sure, it’s all gone mental, everyone’s drunk and partying like there’s no tomorrow, but that’s Galway!’ "
If cities were fictional characters, Galway would be Frank Gallagher, the patriarch from Paul Abbott’s groundbreaking TV dramedy Shameless. Like Frank, Galway doesn’t care why or how it parties, it just concentrates on enjoying itself to the full, and then a little bit more.
The week before the yacht race hit town, I watched a Volvo bigwig on TV explaining how impressed all the Volvo people had been to see 10,000 Galwegians cheering and screaming in the docks when the boats arrived in the middle of the night for the 2009 stopover.
For some reason I found it more sad than amusing, because the man hadn’t a clue what was really going on that night. He said they’d decided to award Galway City the Grand Finale because of the enthusiasm the city clearly had for the race.
Enthusiasm ... for the race? Hmmm.
What he clearly didn’t know was that somewhere in that crowd of 10,000 there was a 26 year old from Athenry shifting a nurse from UCH.
“Slow down big boy! Let’s wait ‘til after the boats come in!”
“What boats?”
“Duh! The racing boats. The Vulva. There's a big race going on -”
“ - sure you’re right there girl, there’s a race on tonight, alright! A race for you and me to get naked!”
“No, choosh, y’know, the racing round the world boats are coming in now. That’s why everyone’s here!”
“Sure it’s half one in the morning on a Saturday night in Galway City - where else would we be?”
Sorry to dampen your nautical squib Mr. Racing Volvo Yacht person, but Galway’s ‘enthusiasm’ was not for the yachts, stunning and mighty though they are. In Galway City people enthuse about drinking. Come to Galway any Saturday night and there’ll be 10,000 drunks looking for a party, and your yachts coming in just happened to be the venue du jour, as they say in Oranmore.
That’s not to say the whole damn shebang was unimpressive. Just because Galway’s enthusiasm stops at the end of an empty glass, don’t think us shallow. We really were into your race: the winner, losers and craft, just in the same way you’re into the birthday girl at a birthday party. You happen to be the excuse for us to party today, right now, so that makes you special, and who knows what, who or why next week.
Except we do know. The boats are gone and Film with a capital ‘F’ is now ruling our roost for a few days. Then it’ll be the Arts Festival, followed by Race Week, followed by blood transfusions and then into the Oyster Festival, the Grand Soft Day Festival, and if my good friend The Body gets his way, the Moaning Festival, which I happen to think would be a blast.
Here in Galway we have festivals for literature; quilts; fishing; kites; food; bicycles; theatre; children; children's theatre; being GLBT and St. Patrick. We host Groove Weekenders and Cuban Fiestas and we somehow managed to create a festival for a Latin Quarter in the centre of a medieval Celtic city. We let rip with whiskey because it’s Tuesday and console ourselves with hot ports on Wednesday. We’ve got festivals and fleadhs coming out of our arse, and if anyone knows the second line of that catchy little ditty please send it in!
Galway is a pure party town. Our enthusiasm knows no bounds. So yes, boats, that was great. We went mad for the boats. They were brilliant, really inspirational.
Film this week.
We are Shameless. We’ll celebrate anything, everything, a void of things or a glut of things. Must be all the sea air that’s hurled at us by the wind. Whatever it is, I love it, and even though I don’t participate in the craic anything like I used to, I love the knowledge that it’s out there; that if I want to I can go into the city and know for sure that pubs will be filled with happy revellers any and every night.
Shameless’ Frank Gallagher would love Galway, but Frank is fictional and from Manchester, so with apologies to those who’ve never seen Shameless (particularly series 1-3!) I’ve adapted his famous opening monologue.
Were the world an honest place, this would have been the original pitch Let’s Do It Galway made to the Volvo Ocean Race committee:

“Now, nobody's sayin’ that Galway City is the Garden of Eden, but it's been a good home to us, to me and me mates, who I’m proud of, ‘cos every single one of them reminds me a little... of Galway.
“We can think for ourselves, drink for days and if the booze doesn't get us the Atlantic will blow us away.
“Come and watch students make a mess of the lives, doing Aftershock shots as they scratch up their hives. See post-traumatic drinkers with 1,000 yard stares and tourists convinced our city is theirs.
“What sounds on earth could ever replace locked Galwegians watching a horse race? ‘Cos this, people reckon is why pubs and clubs were kindly invented, to calm us all down and stop us going mental! These are Galway City’s basic essentials! But all of them, to a man a woman whoever we are, we know first and foremost the most vital necessity in this life is ...
We know how to throw a PARTY! HA HA ... SHCATTER!”

1 comment:

Charlie Adley said...

Here's the comments thread from the facebook portal:

Joe McMahon, Ronan Scully, Tom Pyne and 4 others like this.

Ray Meehan
Yesterday at 13:52

Charlie Adley
Yesterday at 13:52

Joe McMahon
Better to be Frank Gallagher than Simon effin Cowell
20 hours ago

Hugo Seale
from someone that was there to someone that wastnt there you missed the whole point and got it completly wrong. am pretty disgusted by you checkered version of events, it was a party but not an alcohol fulled event. quite the opposite in fact. full of easygoing people. families etc relaxed and happy. galway and ireland at its best people staying up late accross the coast with their kids and loved ones to welcome those sailors in after keeping up to date with events on their phones and tvs or two drunken nights for sure but very mostly irish people simply having a good time and forgetting the recession for a time check it out in reality
18 hours ago

Charlie Adley
Actually I did check it out mate, went down there 3 times, and enjoyed it, and I followed the race all 9 months on TG4, which is more than most did, and it was a PARTY (see Quay Street any night of it, or the many many heineken and jameson tents) and that's what I'm saying and now I'm worried that you've lost your sense of humour altogether‎... also,I never said anything about it being less than Ireland at its best, but you know well enough, Hugo, a columnist's job is to try and present a perspective that's not yet been offered. No point in me writing what's already been said a thousand times. Yes, I have to be accurate, so have a word with Simon H and find out how much alcohol was drunk in the Global Village, or Niall in the Quays. Like Race Week, it was indeed Ireland at its best, with no shortage of families having fun, but that doesn't mean Galway isn't a party town doing what comes naturally and doing it brilliantly.
9 hours ago

Ciaran Tierney
I guess, Charlie and Hugo, you both have valid points. I was lucky enough to be on a 'media boat' when the first four yachts came in. There were sailing journalists on the boat who marvelled that there were 20,000 plus 'sailing fans' in Galway at 2.30am on a Tuesday morning. I kinda had to admit that most of them were just there for the party. But, as Hugo says, it was a mighty event and a wonderful distraction from Ireland's current woes. There certainlyw as a lot of drink, but there was a host of wonderful events which didn't involve alcohol either!
2 hours ago

Charlie Adley
That must have been a great experience Ciaran. I'm jealous of that. The irony is that I've been a fan of the Volvo race ever since I saw the boats arrive in Auckland in 1984, when it was called the Whitbread. It took my breath away. Anyway, it'd be a poor opinion piece that didn't provoke comment.
58 minutes ago

Hugo Seale
no comment..................
36 minutes ago

Charlie Adley
4 minutes ago · Like