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.
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.
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)