It was at a birthday party and I told the boy sitting next to me I loved Packie Bonner. I had no idea who Packie Bonner was, but everyone seemed to like him after Euro 88. The boy just looked at me like I was a weirdo, and did not, as I had hoped, ask me to dance with him when ‘Ride on Time’ came on. So much for opening gambits. I have never flirted with soccer since.
More than twenty years later, and another Euro juggernaut is bearing down on us. The greatest teams on the continent are gathering together in Poland and Ukraine to battle it out for supremacy. Ireland are in group C, and we’re about to lose our minds again, collectively. Thankfully this time I don’t have to pretend to know, or care, anything about it. I won’t be able to tell my Xavis from my Ozils, my Benzemas from my Keanes and I’m perfectly happy.
But ignorance, bliss that it may be, will be no protection for football know-nothings like me. However dimly we grasp the workings, or indeed the point, of the game we won’t be able to escape it.
Ireland is down for at least three matches, so for the next few weeks it’s the progress of a spherical ball that will decide our fortunes, rather than the IMF or the ECB. The entire country is about to go football-crazy, and those of us who detest the game, or just don’t understand it, will have to make our own fun. Fear not, there will be one or two other things happening while the matches are on. Herewith, an alternative Euro 2012 campaign for those of us dodging the ball.
Euro 2012 will kick off with pomp and ceremony on Friday, Jun 8, in Warsaw. Desperate measures are called for if you want to avoid the beautiful game. Up on the bike with you, and off to Kerry. The Dingle Adventure Race is happening on Saturday, Jun 9. You should be there nice and early if you start pedalling on Friday night. The race is a one-day bike, hike, run and kayak event over a 30-mile course, biking through the Conor Pass and kayaking in Dingle harbour while everyone else is watching Holland v’s Denmark and Germany v’s Portugal. Good for Euro 2012 widows and widowers who want to miss the first few matches, but not so good for skipping the rest of the tournament. By the time you finish this race, sitting in front of the telly for a few weeks is all you’ll be good for.
Registration for the Dingle Adventure race is still open on www.dingleadventurerace.com.
France play England in Donetsk on Jun 11. Those of you not interested in watching a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings on a football pitch might want to spend some time soaking up the work of England’s greatest playwright. All the city’s a stage as Dublin’s Shakespeare Festival is bringing the Bard to the streets in all sorts of unexpected ways. With over 60 performances of Shakespeare’s work scheduled over 11 days, it’s the largest outdoor theatre festival in the country. Best of all, it’s free.
Ireland’s first group match is against Croatia on Jun 10, and it’ll be wall to wall green white and gold and olé, olé, olé all the way to meet Spain on Jun 14 and Italy a few days later. These will be fevered times on this island, beside the sea is the best place to be. The Fastnet Maritime and Folk Festival in Ballydehob from Jun 15-17 is a celebration of all that’s best in the maritime tradition, featuring pub sessions, song writing competitions, arts and crafts and an open-air stage on the Pier. The line-up includes Irish and international folk names like Jimmy Crowley, Baggyrinkle and the Swansea Shantymen. Celebrate with a triumphant sea shanty if we win our matches, avoid the temptation to drown your sorrows in the briny in case of defeat.
Greece play Russia and Czech Republic play Poland on Jun 16, but who cares? It’s Bloomsday! If you’re in Dublin for the Shakespeare Festival, then it’s worth your while staying on for this special celebration of one of the city’s best loved literary sons. James Joyce set his modernist masterpiece Ulysses in his home city over the course of a single day: Jun 16, 1904. Ever since the book was published, literature buffs, history enthusiasts, and fans of offal for breakfast, have spent the day following in the footsteps of the books’ hero Leopold Bloom. This year’s Bloomsday festival runs from Jun 10-16, a whole week of Ulysses themed activities, including readings and dramatisations from the book, and all sorts of Joycean shenanigans. Or just pay your own tribute to Mr Bloom, with a breakfast of grilled kidneys, and a pint at Davy Byrnes pub. Ponder Joyce’s cadences, and ignore the match if it’s on.
Bloomsday Festival Information: www.visitdublin.com/event/Bloomsday_Festival
Those seeking a new way to commune with nature, and a brief respite before the Italy match, should head for County Sligo on the weekend of Jun 15, where The No Place Like Dome festival will be happening on the grounds of Temple House Estate. Set up by a group of happy campers who were inspired by the Burning Man Festival in the California desert, the focal point for the weekend will be several giant geodesic domes as well as various art installations, including the world’s biggest guitar. Described by organisers as ‘a playground where we can all leave the real world for a couple of days’. This could be the best place for all of us depending on how the match against Spain goes.
Will it be Poland v’s Portugal on Jun 21st? Or Greece versus Germany? Doesn’t matter, you’ll be at Cork Opera House for Rian, the electrifying dance show that is opening Cork Midsummer this year. From Thursday, Jun 21, the Euro 2012 matches will become just another component of Cork City’s celebration of the endless nights of June. There’s enough theatre, dance, music, opera and visual arts on this year’s programme to ensure the offside rule remains a mystery to us all forever. Highlights include Pat Kinevane’s new play ‘Silent’ in Cobh, and at the CAT club, plus opera at the Everyman with Pagliacci and intriguing-sounding visual arts project ‘The Reading Room’ in the rarely-seen library of the Crawford Art Gallery, curated by Stephen McGlynn and Anna Crudge. Best of all, The Midsummer Festival will take you all the way up to the end of Euro 2012, the festival ends on Jul 1. Scoooore!