In preparation for our big trip to the Big Apple, New York City connoisseur and general oddball, Jarlath Coady, provides us with some guidelines for how to survive and make to most of our trip abroad.
So you’re going to New York? First bit of advice: Don’t eat the gum on subway handrails. Or anywhere else for that matter. Buy your own (said in New York accent).
New York is often described as the perfect city. Its public transportation is so efficient, it makes you think that maybe the Red Setter from Bus Eireann should be put down. If you want to shop, it’s got that. Concerts? Even a deaf person would have a great choice. Food? Only everywhere. Coffee? Starbucks on every corner. ‘Coz you might need a caffeine top-up in the 30-yard trek from one street-corner to the next.
It’s got everything that any city could have AND even has beaches. Who knew? I did. And now you do. Which may be an option since heading into May is the beginning of ‘fan oven’ season in New York. For those daunted by being NYC first-timers, it has some comparable characteristics in common with Mayo. If you like Main Street Castlebar, then you’ll love Times Square. It’s Hudson River is the absolute spit of Carrowbeg river in Westport. Its beaches just like Clew Bay.
However, one thing is very different in New York. Things do not stand still. No train or bus is ever a minute late, and don’t expect one to even stop for you if you are on Irish time of being a minute late. So with that, may I introduce you to the New York public transport. Before going over, make sure you have downloaded one of the many subway apps and try getting yourself familiar with it. The subway can be a daunting experience if you’re unfamiliar with it but is so easy to navigate once you do get used to it. Rule of thumb: you’re either going Uptown(North), Downtown(South), Manhattan-bound(West) or Queens/Brooklyn-bound(East). It might sound obvious, but know where you are and where you’re going. If you find yourself on the right train but going in the wrong direction, don’t panic. Just get off at the next stop. If the wrong direction is southbound, then just get the northbound which is often in the same underground station, or at worst across the street. Make sure that any app you do have for the subway can be used offline as any app that relies on data connection either won’t work or you will encounter your first mugging experience in the city. Data roaming charges are ridiculous in America. Before heading over, make sure you notify your network operator that you are going to America and research if there is any add-on you can buy which will allow you to use some data over there. 1MB of data can cost nearly €5. Google Maps simply tracking your location is a shocking €10 gone. If you’re disciplined enough to not obsess about needing constant Facebook access, then Starbucks will be your new best friend with its free (if somewhat slow) Wi-Fi. Also, you should notify your bank that you are going over as any debit/credit transactions may be seen as suspicious activity and your card could be frozen until you contact them anyways.
So you have your app downloaded, your Genfitt Mayo jersey on. What the hell is the next step from JFK? Again, do your research before you arrive, but if you are staying in Manhattan then it’s very easy. Get the Airtain from JFK to Howard Beach. Buy the €5 Airtrain ticket at Howard Beach and get the Manhattan-bound A or E trains which will bring you straight into Manhattan. It takes about an hour and a half so don’t be worried thinking that you’re on your way to LA. If you plan on using the subway regularly (which you will), then it would be wise to buy a 7-day unlimited metrocard for $31, even if you’re only in NYC for a few days. You’ll be using it daily a number of times. The metrocard can be bought from any of the kiosks available in all underground stations.
To distract yourself from the potential Sam decider with New York, you may have an interest in other sports. New York doesn’t do small or understated. In Ireland, the difficulty of wondering if a pub is “showing the match” is about as alien to New York as Sting. The two best sports bars in NYC are The Irish Pub between 53rd and 54th street on 7th avenue approximately a five minute walk from Times Square and Legends on W 33rd Street. These places have more TV’s than you could shake a hurley stick at and regularly show Premier League/Champions League games amongst others. It would be pointless mentioning other pubs in NYC as there are too many to mention. Looking for an Irish Pub? Here’s a tip. Open your bloody eyes. They’re everywhere. And for those new to the pub culture there, it’s customary to tip a dollar for every drink. Prices for drinks are roughly similar or slightly cheaper than cities in Ireland, depending a bit on the strength of the euro to the dollar. At the moment, the euro has strengthened over the last year from a low in 2012 and so surprisingly New York prices aren’t astronomical (clearly not talking about accommodation here). After every third drink, the bar man will give a free round. That’s the norm. For those wanting to try out some trendy bars in New York, google Overtime NYC. They often have a number of events on every week, usually with Open Vodka bars on open rooftop bars overlooking the city. Maybe the best option if you have no intentions of leaving the pub during your holiday but wouldn’t mind getting a bit of sun.
For those who aren’t going to set up camp in a bar/pub in NYC then why not do what all the tourists do. No, not get mugged. Unless you wear a bum bag, or socks in sandals. Then yes. You’re getting mugged. And it might even be me that does it. There are plenty of tourist traps in New York. There are two options for seeing really what NYC looks like. The Empire State Building and just ‘down the road’ (in Manhattan terms) ‘The Rock’ at Rockefeller Square has awesome views of the entire city including Central Park. The new World Trade Centre is looking mighty impressive and is an obvious stop for sightseeing. Plus, could people stop feeding the pigeons around WTC? THEY ARE MASSIVE.
And some are downright dangerous.
It’s near the very southern tip of Manhattan island and not too far from Wall Street. One recommendation: Statue of Liberty isn’t as impressive up-close as it is in the movies. Although, only in recent months have they opened up the oul’ hat on herself so people can look out from it. Something that’s been closed off since 9/11. 5th avenue is not too bad for the gawk but you’d be better off saving your shopping for other places. Head to Union Square for some good stores at decent prices. If you want super bargains, then Woodbury Common is the place to go. This is upstate and so is a bit of a bus journey. Tickets for the buses can be bought from Port Authority on 42nd Street and 8th avenue. The buses leave from here regularly and it’s worth the trek. Some interesting film spots might include the Ghostbusters firehouse at 14 N Moore Street or Monica’s apartment from Friends which is above The Little Owl Restaurant (just the outside obviously, don’t go harassing some elderly couple because you want to see the inside of Monica’s apartment) on the corner of Grove and Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, 90 Bedford Street to be exact. There are too many other great spots to visit in NYC but this is a blog, not a new Lord of the Rings book.
There are two types of people to be weary of when in Times Square. Those selling their homemade music CD’s and those selling tickets for stand-up comedy shows. Fine if you want to listen to a struggling hip-hop artist or want to go to a comedy show. But if you don’t, these guys will hound you if you look anywhere in their direction. So just look straight ahead and keep on walking. Do not talk to them.
If you feel like being a bit fancy, Broadway is a good experience with plenty of shows to cater for whatever taste. There are plenty of sharp, edgy plays, it isn’t just musicals that Broadway does. You can go directly to box offices of theatres. Most of the Broadway theatres are located just off Times Square in the streets from 41st to 49st Street roughly. If you’re not sure what to go see, then cut out the walking and just show up at the tkts booth situated directly below the steps on Times Square. This is open in the morning and afternoon and tickets can be discounted from 20-50%. This can be a little deceptive though as a ticket might be 50% off but could be an expensive seat as you find out the discount at the area but not the price until you get to a kiosk. Generally speaking, no matter where you sit in any of the theatres you will see the stage so don’t go buying premium seats if you don’t need to.
Finally, make sure that in getting lost in the energy of New York you don’t forget to get the plane back. Horan will be looking for you come September!
As we turn our faces towards the summer and the promise of the Championship, we welcome another guest contributor to the site. Sarah McKirdy hails from the south of the county, dangerously close to Galway, but her allegiance is unquestionable! Here Sarah writes about being a Mayo supporter and what it means to her.
“The best thing to come out of Galway is the road to Mayo.”
When you come from a part of the County of Mayo where you are surrounded by the Black River as it winds its way from Shrule into the great Loch Corrib, and more especially when you are surrounded by County Galway and Galway People, it lends itself to people on both sides being very “one eyed”. Such is the case with this poor Writer. From my earliest memories, the battle for glory was mainly played out between the two counties. It was the sixties and Galway were in full flight. Beating Galway was our All-Ireland, no thoughts of Croke Park, no county jersey, no flags and no bunting, we would paint the goal posts red and green (usually two young ash trees ) and we were made up. Mayo God help us and Galway glad to get us.
The glamorous games …
Much has changed since those days – and yet maybe not. The passion is still there, enough so to make pride in our County burn in our hearts, to make the stuff running in our veins vivid red but with a smattering of green, to raise our voices in song with our adopted anthem The Green and Red of Mayo, to be there when we are winning and when we are losing, triumph and disaster, we have met those two impostors and treated them the same. The love of our County, our native place, and to recognise that herein are our roots, our heritage, our alma mater may go some way to explaining the Mayo mindset. People are very often amazed by the continued loyal following of the Mayo GAA Senior Team by such a vast number of people. Anyone who witnessed the game in Cork in 2013 in the NFL can attest to this, but us Mayo Natives are not surprised at all. Sure where else would we be?
I have travelled the length and breadth of the Country in support of my team, I probably could have paid off the mortgage by now had I stayed at home, but that was never an option. My travelling companion through most of this campaign has now been to thirty (yes ,30) Connacht Finals, and our quest continues. We have the most marvellous memories of places we’ve been, people we’ve met and games we’ve watched. I wouldn’t change or swap one minute of any of it.
.. and the not-so glamorous games.
On one occasion we headed to Ennis, where our Under 21s were playing the All-Ireland Final against Cork. We landed in good time and parked the car in a housing estate, ready for the speedy exit, or so we thought. When we returned to the car, the All-Ireland secured and the singing at several decibels above the reasonable, a lady from a nearby house had a pot of tea and of course the few custard creams waiting for us. Now we had never met this lady before in our lives, but her generosity of spirit is something that will stay with us forever and is often spoken of. “Ah sure ye have a long trip back to Mayo’’, she said.
In the last couple of years we have experienced the very best of times and maybe the worst of times but the passion is still there. I saw it again in a new guise last week in MacHale Park with the emergence of Club ’51, passionate supporters banding together and bonding together in support of Mayo Football. I’ve seen it over many years in all shapes and forms, parents taking their young children to matches, the old and the young, the great and the good coming together with a common cause.
It’s heartwarming, it’s uplifting, it makes us what we are.
We are MAYO.
(Photos: Michael Maye)
Over the last few years, as the All-Ireland series rolls around on the bank holiday weekend, you can pretty much guarantee that the usual suspects will be taking part: Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Tyrone, Donegal and of course, Mayo. As you know, last week we asked you to come up with ideas for Club ’51 flags and Lorraine Kelly’s “Usual Suspects” inspired theme was voted the winner by our members. She will be presented with her prize, a Club ’51 T-shirt from the lads at T-Rex clothing. Well done Lorraine!
Tomorrow Club ’51 will be congregating beside the Media Tower, please come and join. Don’t worry if some of the people are a little unfamiliar , that will be exactly how the Derry players will be feeling! We will also be joined by the good volunteers of the Pieta House Darkness into Light Run for Ballina and Westport. We will be hoping to help promote the forthcoming run on our site in the next week.
Judging by the fact that Derry have decided to give their second string a run out we’ll be hoping to put them to the sword and get another day out in Croke Park. Beir Bua!
In the aftermath of a rollercoaster of a game last night against Dublin that will no doubt have us all talking for some time to come, here’s a feature on Club ’51 from yesterday’s Irish Examiner written by Ballina’s own Terry Reilly, after a chat with Anne-Marie during the week. Hopefully for those of you who’ve just recently signed up, it’ll give you some more background on what we’re about and what we want to achieve.
It’s not easy to keep the heads up when things aren’t going well, and as supporters, we are fairly put through the wringer, but the Mayo support in Croke Park last night was fantastic and we want to keep that momentum going.
We’re cooking up a plan of action for what will now be a crucial game vs. Derry next week and will be in touch during the week with an update.
Have a good week folks and keep the faith – Maigh Eo abú!
The Club ’51 Team
By this stage, most of you will probably have heard about the issues experienced by many Mayo supporters (and indeed, those further afield) with their GAA Croke Park season ticket attendance records over the past few weeks. If not, here’s some background.
It is important from the outset to point out that the GAA season ticket system has been a very welcome development by the organisation, and is one that typically works very effectively and seamlessly. It is the wish of both the GAA and supporters that it continues to fulfil the function for which it was established – to reward loyal supporters.
It has come to our attention that a significant number of supporters who attended games in MacHale Park using their GAA season tickets have not had their attendance records updated online. Upon contacting the season ticket office, some of those supporters have been met with an outright refusal to have their records updated. (Note: Cairde Mhaigheo season ticket holders have not been affected by this issue.)
For those of us who were in attendance at MacHale Park for the Cork game, but subsequently discovered that their attendance was not registered online, it has been a frustrating and angering few days trying to obtain a satisfactory response from the GAA season ticket department via email and telephone, and indeed the poor communication from HQ about their reasoning has been a source of much of the frustration.
Club ’51 believes that anyone who can prove they were in attendance at a fixture has the right to have their attendance record updated, so that they are not potentially affected later in the season. Under the Croke Park Season Ticket T&Cs, you must have attended 60% of your county’s games to qualify for purchase of an All-Ireland ticket if your county makes it to the final. If your county does not make it to the final, and you have attended 100% of your county’s games, you are entitled to entry to a draw for All-Ireland tickets regardless. So it is of paramount importance to loyal season ticket holders that their attendance record is accurately maintained; however until yesterday, we had been met by serious resistance and a lack of flexibility from the GAA in this regard.
Yesterday (Wednesday 26th March) however, in a significant development, the GAA emailed an as-yet unconfirmed number of people to inform them that “We will update your attendance for the fixture in question here as a goodwill gesture to you personally”, while in the same sentence, insisting that “there will be no change to attendance made based upon a post-facto email for any fixture or from any Season Ticket holder where there were no issues reported by the County Board.” It is unclear how many of those affected have received this email or have had their records corrected.
Basically, what this appears to boil down to is that the GAA are telling supporters that unless the county board at the venue in question informs HQ that there is a problem with the scanning equipment or information, if you check your account and find that your attendance record is not correct, it will not be updated, even if you were at the game. We are not satisfied with this response, and at this point have sought the advice of a number of people more qualified than ourselves to check the legality of the GAA’s stance.
We are, however also (finally!) engaged in communication with Ronan Murphy, head of the GAA Ticketing Department, who very helpfully took the time to explain the reasoning behind their response, and in doing so, made some valid points. We will push to continue this conversation in order to try and find a reasonable, workable solution for everyone with a genuine complaint. The GAA have also assured us in writing that they will deal with each request individually and we can only assume that this will involve trying to determine the facts behind a problem, rather than an upfront refusal.
In the meantime, Club ’51 would like to give you some information that may prevent an issue occurring with your attendance record in future.
- The GAA in their communications with us stated that they have taken this stance in an attempt to clamp down on widespread growing misuse of the system. This includes people turning up to match venues and trying to get additional tickets scanned, and people who did not attend fixtures emailing the season ticket office to try and get their attendance updated regardless.
- This behaviour places the GAA’s resources under considerable strain, and it compromises the integrity and fairness of the system for everyone. At this point (and this is somewhat understandable) the GAA have stated that they can no longer simply accept an email in the days following a fixture as proof of attendance at that fixture.
- Therefore, if you have not attended a game, then play fair. Please do not contact the season ticket office to try and get your attendance updated – this is essentially fraudulent behaviour, and makes life difficult for genuine supporters. Your ticket is transferable, however.
- However, we believe that a way needs to be found to accommodate those season ticket holders who have experienced genuine problems with their attendance records, and we will push where necessary to find a workable, transparent solution.
In the meantime, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your attendance is recorded:
- Arrive early to the ground. In particular, we recommend that you arrive to MacHale Park well in advance of throw-in time on Sunday 6th April as there are now likely to be delays at the season ticket stiles while people ensure that their tickets have scanned correctly.
- In order to get your attendance scanned, you MUST enter the ground using the designated season ticket entrance. They are clearly marked on match days, and if you don’t do this and you fail to get your ticket scanned, in fairness you really only have yourself to blame if you can’t get your attendance updated.
- You must only present ONE season ticket per person to the person scanning the tickets. By giving them your mate’s ticket or your children’s tickets as well as your own and asking them to scan them, you’re going against the entire spirit of the season ticket and you’re also asking the volunteers to break the rules. It’s unfair to the volunteers and it’s unfair to those who do actually attend the games – we have seen proof of that this week. So please, one person, one ticket. The Season Stile attendant is entitled to confiscate the Season Ticket cards of anyone involved in the event of attempted abuse of the one card per person rule.
- Only those who are under 16 may use a Juvenile Season Ticket.
- When your ticket has been scanned, it’s useful to check that it has actually been scanned successfully. According to tickets.ie (the company who administer the GAA tickets) hearing a ‘beep’ does not in itself necessarily mean that the card has scanned correctly. If you are concerned that your Season Ticket has not been scanned properly please advise the person scanning on the day and he or she can try again; enter your barcode manually or alternatively make a note if required.
- If you do want to get proof that your ticket has scanned, then we suggest taking a photo of the scanner using your phone. Should your ticket not scan, the GAA has advised us that they provide every venue with a list of season ticket holders for that venue, so attendance can be manually updated later if the county board reports an issue. Ask them to check you off on that list if you suspect that your ticket has not scanned correctly.
- It can take a few days to get the lists or devices back from the volunteers involved on match days, so please be patient after each fixture. The GAA will not update any attendance before scanners are uploaded and / or the completed roll lists have been received.
- However there are new Terms and Conditions in place for 2014, and under these, you MUST report any issue with your season ticket attendance records within 10 days of the fixture taking place, otherwise your request will not be considered. It is your responsibility to check within that period that your attendance has been logged! If you do notice a problem with your account, email email@example.com immediately to make them aware of the problem.
- Note that it is worth re-reading the Terms and Conditions of your season ticket from time to time if you have concerns, as these can change without notice (as per No.70).
The above are all measures we can take to ensure that this system works as well and possible and and serves the purpose for which it was set up – to reward loyal supporters.
As we’ve already stated, while we now have a better understanding of the reasoning behind it, we are not completely satisfied with the GAA’s response this week to the problems Mayo supporters have been experiencing, nor with the manner and inconsistency with which their complaints have been handled. We believe that in future, where mistakes have been made and supporters have genuinely attended a game, that there needs to be a system in place to address these issues in a fair, transparent manner and correct them where relevant. We will be continuing this conversation with them.
However, given the abuse of the system at present, the GAA understandably are taking a firmer line with requests for attendance updates in order to ensure that the system continues to reward genuine, dedicated supporters. A workable compromise must therefore be found so that these supporters can be reassured that they receive the service they are paying for, and the conversation will continue.
We’ll keep you posted!