Nostalgia week continues with a view from someone living far away cross the ocean , far away o’er the foam.
The life of the Irish expatriate on the European mainland is, on the whole, a happy and fulfilling one. You have chosen to leave home in order to enjoy the opportunities afforded by a job abroad and you can enjoy the culture of your adopted country and still, thanks to low cost air travel, return home on a regular basis and also invite friends and family to visit. The script for the Irish male on most Saturdays in Europe is along the same lines in every country. Get yourself into the local Irish pub with all the English and Scots and watch as much football and rugby as the landlord can fit onto his screens. Sundays however can take a different turn. On Sunday the pub may still be full but there will be one corner TV showing the big premier league game and in the other corner, the big Irish heavyweight, the GAA.
Our brethren in the US historically have had a different experience when it comes to viewing our games. The Astra satellite shadow does not fall over the North American continent and as such they have always been reliant on service providers to ensure that they see their county men in action. Pubs all over the US welcome hung over Irishmen on a Sunday at hours ranging from 4 or 5 AM in San Francisco to 8 am on the east coast. By welcome I mean greet them with an ignorant door man demanding 25 dollars entry fee.
The down under experience is another step into dedication. I was in a pub in Melbourne at about midnight one night and an Ulster championship clash was just commencing, the place was packed and it was on every screen. How do these lads get up for work the next day?
I have been in Croke Park and Castlebar for many of Mayo’s finest days and for a few disasters as well but I remember watching us beat Tyrone in Amsterdam in 2004, just myself and a lad from Ballina whom I had just met roaring at the telly. I watched us lose to Galway in 2003 from O’reillys pub in Frankfurt. The day we beat Cork in 2011 I was in the Irish Pub in Bornheim. The famous day against Dublin in ’06 I was in the Anglo Irish pub with about 7 dubs, I simply could not afford to come home.
So folks , when you hear about lads turning up for All-Ireland finals from foreign countries I can see where you might feel aggrieved that they somehow manage to score a ticket and you did not. But don’t forget although we left home a long time ago our love for our team is just as strong as it was then. We are blessed with GAAGO this year but it was not always the case ,I know a man who took a flight in America to fly to a city in another state with a pub that was showing a Mayo game. You hear English accents and American ones as well in Croke Park when Mayo play, lads fulfilling their father’s wishes to see Mayo lift that chalice, bitten by that same bug that you yourself have. We are all the same or as they say in Thailand, “Same Same but Different”.
Mayo for Sam.