I was reading the Irish papers this morning after my 10k run, and saw that the annual Galway Racing festival is about to begin. This means a week of lazy colour pieces about the ‘craic’, and the sight of helicopters landing and taking off being compared to the Vietnam War. We will also be bombarded with photographs of overweight men with red faces, dressed in cheap suits and sunglasses, clutching plastic pint glasses and gurning at the camera.
Now I’m a Galwegian by birth myself, and retain an affection for the place. However is there any other city that has such a collectivised sense of self-importance about itself? It’s a small, parochial backwater with a 3rd rate university, a handful of mediocre pubs in the ‘Latin Quarter’, and several pretty decent restaurants in fairness. Yet you’d think you were heading to Berlin circa 1925 by the way some of the locals go on about the place. Some of them seem to think they are living in some rich melting pot of ideas where they are always on the edge of some new cultural movement. Meanwhile most of them are like Syd Barrett in 1972 without the prior success.
I don’t think anything sums up this hubris about the place better than an article I read about the place in the Independent earlier this year. Some guy called Gugai McNamara was going on about the vibe on Galway’s ‘West End’, and how he doesn’t cross the river after 6PM as there’s so much to do. The ‘West End’ is made up of about 6 pubs, and one of those dreadful stores selling used records and comic books. It’s to culture what Supermacs is to fine dining.
Does anywhere else in Ireland (or indeed Europe) have locals with such an inflated sense of importance about where they are from? I think the incessant rain and damp is doing something to their brains to be honest.