By the Galway Player | Galway socialising expert
The Galway Races. So much craic that the Galway hurlers and footballers do their very best to have all their championship commitments out of the way weeks before it starts. And to their credit, they rarely fail. In a city festooned with summer festivities, the Races have a very special place in the hearts of the locals. And the bank balances of the publicans.
Hot to trot
The Races attract a fascinatingly diverse crowd. While other festivals are a mecca for the equine aficionados, Galway is as much about horseplay of a different kind. The only time most visitors come close to viewing anything horse related is when they’re watching their mate trying the case with someone that resembles Sarah Jessica Parker. On any given night the crowds on Cross Street resemble the rejects from the Irish auditions for Take Me Out. Tourists often mistake Ladies’ Day for some kind of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fan day, with Oompa Loompas as far as the eye can see. Galway’s businesses are this week fine tuning preparations for the madness ahead – The Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa have eight extra bars installed for the week, with estimated crowds of 6,000 people passing through its doors nightly. Perhaps just as importantly pharmacies throughout the city also are being prepped for a bumper week with gallons of extra fake tan, plasters, gel heels, and fake eye lashes ordered to cope with demand. Like any great sporting occasion, intense rivalries add to the spectacle. I am, of course, referring to the clash of the two tans, farmers v fake. All concerned will be hoping for a dry week at least – last year’s torrential showers proved too much for even the most resilient of products. 2013 will always be remembered for the rivers of fake tan through the streets of Galway.
Skirting the issue
Rest assured – there will be horses better covered up that some of the fillies in attendance. The skimpy attire chosen by many of the younger female race-goers may cause concern about hypothermia, but they seem compensate for potential loss of body heat with extra layers of make-up. It can be difficult to resist wetting your finger and writing “Wash Me” on some of these ladies. The country lads have the last load of turf home just in time to dust down the suit last seen at the GAA Dinnerdance and scramble to find a tie that matches their blue or white shirt, as a diet of pint bottles and snackboxes can sustain the hang sangich brigade for the week. Fashion trends happily pass these lads like motorists happily bypass Athlone.
Overall, the lads have it much easier to be fair. Electric Blue (or navy as the farmers will call it) seems to be the go-to colour this season when it comes to suits. Accessories are where the hipster peacocking battle really kicks off. Dickie bows, cufflinks, different coloured laces and braces are the order of the day. Expect to be greeted by a sea of Conor McGregor wannabes in Ballybrit next week. I would make a joke about McGregor here but I like my face … Of course, you also have to negotiate the bluffers from the midlands who arrive en masse but fair play to them the annual bath prior to the races kills the smell somewhat. Apparently they’re devout fans, yet they still can’t be bothered going to the track. Instead you will find them sitting in a bar roaring at the TV, in between running to the nearest bookies. Their gambling strategy is a mix of backing sure things they’ve just received a text about from a lad who’s never wrong, or a tip from a jockey they met in the Hole in The Wall the night before. In reality it was probably a particularly small teenager they befriended drinking cans in Eyre Square but the lads remain blissfully unaware god bless them!
Cocktails are now the drinks of choice for many ladies – The G Hotel, The Clayton, The Myrick and the House Hotel offering excellent selections potent enough to make anybody look attractive after a few. A player like myself however knows the way to really impress is with Champagne, you’re guaranteed a successful races if you ensure your flute is rarely out of her hand. So as the first fascinator appears over the horizon, and as the traditional stampede descend on the heart of the City of the Tribes, rest assured Galway will welcome the good the bad and the downright horrific with open arms and bars.