Standing on a bin in Shop Street waiting for the Galway Girl street performance to start, I spot local author Ken Bruen with his daughter, Grace, in the distance. Excited, I crack off a shot as they walk towards me and then veer into McDonald’s.
Spontaneously, I decide to jump down off the top of my bin perch, go into McDonald’s, say hello and tell him I’ll email him the photo and he says to just pop it up on Facebook and add him as a friend. I find this rather exciting as I have read a couple of his books, have seen him on television, and Iain Glenn (otherwise known as Game of Thrones’ Jorah Mormont) is the lead man in the films based on his books.
His daughter, Grace, extends her hand to me and says thanks for the lovely photo and that it is lovely to meet me. Mr Bruen then asks me if I would like a coffee or anything and that he would bring it out to me. I politely decline but am overwhelmed both by how genuinely nice he is and the very ladylike and endearing manner of his daughter.
It’s moments like these that make one feel a tremendous sense of wellbeing. I say that it was nice to meet them as I depart, but I think the word ‘nice’ wasn’t really strong enough. Inspirational would have been much better.
The main street performance is starting up the road outside Brown Thomas but representatives of various clubs and organisations line the streets from Quay Street all the way up to there. These include, but are in no way limited to, Galway 2020 representatives, Tribesmen rowing club, Ignite Gospel Choir, and Galway WFC. There are many photos on the Facebook page, should you wish to view them. There’s simply too many to post them all here.
I gradually squeeze my way up towards the main act through hoards of people and everyone has their iPhones in the air so it’s practically impossible to get a decent shot, though I do manage to get a few lovely ones of our delightful Rose of Tralee representative, Rosie Burke, who is a part of the performance.
Kamil, the man who has organised the filming, clearly has a lot of hard work on his plate and, on top of making sure the filming goes well, he persistently urges people to step back a bit. Still, he handles it well and somehow manages to maintain a cheerful and relaxed composure in the course of the gargantuan task at hand. Some estimates are that as many as 15,000 people squeezed into this one small stretch of Galway street. This is the man himself below.
Close to me, another photographer is standing on top of a bin for a better view and I’m slightly envious of his position and so I say, “I’m slightly envious of your position.”
In the spirit of true and noble camaraderie he reaches out his hand and hoists all 14st of me up beside him. Wow, I think, there’s lots of really great people in the universe.
From elevated heights, it’s easy to crack off a few great shots of Sharon Shannon that were impossibly elusive when I was trying to jostle my way through the iPhone-on-selfie-stick-masses.
There are several takes of the Galway Girl song and so I have a wonderful opportunity to make a video, which I make an absolute balls of on account of my settings being such that the shot is somewhat overexposed and out of focus. Still, I think philosophically, while it may not be perfect it captures the wonderful spirit of the moment.
There is a great sense of joviality in the performance and it clearly emanates from the circle of musicians and infects all of the surrounding spectators in a very positive way.
Hector from television is over in a corner doing the MC’ing and is perhaps feeling a bit left out because he decides to yoink the hat off of a nearby Guard and pop it on his head. I must admit it did warrant a moment’s diversion from the main show.
Part of the song has a lyric that goes “I took her hand and I gave her a Twirl” and I spot Mundy actually handing out Twirls, from a big brown paper bag, to kids. Dang, I think, I always thought that line referred to physically twirling a girl around.
All-too-soon the show is over, but what a wonderful show it was. For an all-too-brief instant sonorous happiness bounced down the streets, and echoed through the medieval walls of this culture rich city of the arts.
And, just for a while, it felt like the whole town was smiling.