It was probably jealousy, a bit of Galway-envy.
To any readers who may not be familiar with the concept of Galway, think of it more as a settlement bound together by festivals. On last count, the only weekend in the year in Galway that doesn’t have a festival was the third weekend in February and that’s largely dominated by workshops preparing for the great End of February Festival. Galway is the pub that Ireland shelters in against the Atlantic.
Galway-envy is the feeling that the rest of the country has that at any given moment, people are having a better time in Galway. In Cork we think everyone is jealous of Cork “because it’s Cork, like”. But they’re not. They’re not thinking about us at all.
Galway is the hairy man who gets the girl. Or is the first place to realise that girls are not there to be got but are autonomous human beings who have full control over their fate.
However if she’s up for being got and has clearly indicated consent, she’ll choose the Galwegian, quietly busking in the corner, with his shirt unbuttoned one lower than everyone else’s, teaching another girl from the University of Wisconsin about fairy forts.
Anyway as far as I was concerned, Macnas were a few large papier-mâché heads of U2 and something about the Fianna. This was based on never having been to a parade. Instead I fed my irrational dislike on scant, inaccurate memories of Jim Fahy — RTÉ’s longstanding western correspondent reporting from the St Patrick’s Day parade.
It probably only happened one year — some lad with a giant Bono head leaning down to leer at the crowd. Then Jim would say “but not everyone was impressed” and there’d be a shot of a sleeping or crying baby.
But then I saw a Macnas parade last week at Halloween, in the flesh and metal and feathers and whatever it was made from. And I was so wrong. It was FANTASTIC. Literally. The name of it was Savage Grace and the theme was er … ah it doesn’t matter. It was just crazy and wonderful and I was transported away from the streetside into a dark steampunk novel set in Victorian times but with zombies. They had a bear. A giant bear! And a 20-foot old woman that winked scarily and all manner of wonderful machines and discordant music and flames and smoke and hairy and bald Galwegians — and other Wegians all painted and dancing around.
And it was short, and on time. Which is always one of the greatest favours art can bestow on those waiting with a baby. I’m sorry Macnas for badmouthing ye before.
I was wrong. I’d say it was something to do with doing engineering in college and thinking that if you weren’t slaving away on working out the loading on a beam you weren’t working as hard as me. But ye were. And doing a hell of a lot more engineering than I ever did. With your Mad Max-style bandstand that shot flames into the air.
Part of me still likes to think that high up, within Macnas there’s a ‘creative’ who’s just dying to be an accountant but feels trapped in the daily grind of coming up with mythical parade concepts. She’d love to introduce a “Balance Sheet” theme for 2017 where huge bespectacled, sensibly dressed figures get their tax filed before the pay and file tax deadline.
But I suspect not. Or if there is, she’ll do it well.
So go on, who’s your irrational dislike? Is it time to revise?