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Showing posts from August, 2016

Different strokes

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In Irish politics, a "stroker" is a person who is able to carry out secretive, illicit or underhand deals. And this week it felt as though our whole economy was based on "strokes".

It’s not every Government that threatens to take legal action because it does not want to take up a €13 billion windfall.

Especially one that was in the midst of a grave recession just a few short years ago.

But, then again, the Irish Government does not seem to be the same as any other Government on the planet.

To judge by this week’s events, they don’t really believe in the long-term viability of their economy. A small island, on the edge of Europe, clearly needs to offer generous incentives if it is to attract big business.                                                                                        

So when the European Commission declares that Apple owes Ireland €13 billion in back taxes, the first reaction of the Irish Government is to express dismay. The second is to th…

Flying the flag for Palestine

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When a group of talented young soccer players from Gaza enjoyed a couple of dream evenings in Galway earlier this month, they made sure to record every important moment on their smartphones.

The young boys, aged between ten and 14, were delighted to be guests of honour at Galway United’s big game against the Irish champions, Dundalk FC, and they were determined to video the highlights for an absent friend.

The League of Ireland is hardly the most glamorous competition in Europe but, with 2,600 passionate fans in the ground, it was the biggest game any of them had attended in their short young lives.

When they performed a guard of honour to welcome the two teams onto the pitch at Eamon Deacy Park for the big televised game, the phones were produced.                        

When half of the main stand stood up to sing for Palestine, they filmed the hospitable crowd with tears in their eyes.

When they were beckoned into a room under the main stand after the game, to meet no less a figur…

Marking the end of a remarkable life

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It was a reflection of the spirit of adventure she showed throughout her life that Mary Kilroy was delighted to take part in a documentary film called ‘Older Than Ireland’ at 101 years of age.

Like all the other centenarians who took part in the film, my grandmother was happy to share her thoughts on a long life lived to the full on the big screen.

All 30 of them were born under the British Empire, and lived through the 1916 Easter Rising, the birth of a new Ireland, and two world wars.

Yet, as film-maker Alex Fegan discovered, most of them were happier to talk about their own personal tragedies, triumphs, loves and losses than the great political and social changes they had witnessed throughout their lives.

When Alex arrived at my grandmother’s farm-house in Caltra, Co Galway, to film an interview last year he found a lady dressed to the nines for an auspicious occasion, happy to tell an abundance of stories from her long and wonderful life.

A few people who saw the film, but never m…

Gazan dreams come true on Galway fields

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It’s not often you witness the dreams of young Palestinian soccer players come true on West of Ireland fields, but after a three year wait a group of 14 boys from Gaza found themselves on cloud nine on Friday night.

Three weeks after the crushing disappointment of being refused exit permits by the Israeli authorities, the youngsters from the Al-Helal Football Academy were special guests of Galway United Football Club for their biggest home game of the year against the Irish champions, Dundalk FC.

After welcoming the two teams onto the pitch before the televised game at Eamon Deacy Park, the talented young footballers got to showcase their talents before Galway United’s biggest crowd of the season at half-time.

Not only did Galway beat Dundalk in a thrilling encounter, the boys from Gaza were invited to a special reception to meet the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, after the game.


During the game, fans across the entire main stand rose…

Dream comes true for Gaza children in Galway!

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The children of the Al-Helal Football Academy in occupied Palestine had an amazing couple of days in Galway, in which they beat a local team, saw Galway United beat Dundalk FC in front of a passionate crowd, and even met the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, after the game.

Last night, it was clear that sometimes dreams really can come true when people put enough effort in to overcome barriers and obstacles.

The joy on their faces as they took to the perfect surface to welcome the two teams onto the pitch will live long in the memory.

I'll be writing a blog about their Galway visit in due course but, in the meantime, here's the piece I wrote for 'Maroon View', the sold-out match programme.

Well done to Kinvara United, Gaza Action Ireland, the Galway Community Circus, Galway United FC, President Higgins, and the entire Galway community for turning their dreams into reality.

How wonderful to see 14 children from one of the most troubled places on earth being trea…

My city is buzzing right now

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Attendances may have been down at the Galway Races last week, but there is no doubt that my native city has been buzzing like never before over the past few weeks and months.

Imagine, Galway ... little windswept Galway on the Atlantic coast is set to become the European Capital of Culture four years from now. No wonder people have been in party mode over the past couple of weeks.

About 139,000 people attended the Racing Festival, with the inclement weather playing a part in keeping the numbers down, and over €14.5 million was exchanged through on-course betting.

But, in the three weeks prior to the races, the city seemed to be buzzing like never before.

Visitor numbers have definitely been up over the past couple of months and a hugely successful Galway International Film Festival came hot on the heels of an excellent Galway Film Fleadh.

The arts are buzzing in the City of the Tribes, which was designated European Capital of Culture for 2020 in t…