Now of events, I’ve been watching the rowers, the swimmers, the runners and of course, the boxers. I just spend the time marvelling at their athletic feats while I snack on crisps and lull on the couch.
One thing I have noticed; the games really bring out the patriot in you, don’t they? So many countries and the people within them surely think this? There is absolutely nothing like watching one of your Olympians stepping up to the podium.
At the moment, here in Ireland, there is one person’s name on all our lips, Katie Taylor. While I’ll be the first to say we have fantastic sports people, Katie really is the woman of the hour. When she received her gold medal around her neck, there wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium or in the country.
Shivers shot through me to hear our nations song, ‘Aran na bhFiann’ song by thousands in a completely different country, there were so many of us there it was a like a GAA (football or hurling) final in Dublin! (Or the Euros in Poland this year!)
For the week or so of her three big fights, the country, the people of Ireland forgot their worries and joined together. We speculated, we hoped, we debated and we prayed for a great result. We all love to support our teams and our people. We get behind our heroes and we cheer them on. Even now, one of our most popular songs that we sing at nearly every event harks back to the 1990s during the World Cup in Italy when our football team got through and played in them. Their coach was Jack Charlton and the song: ‘We’re all part of Jackie’s Army’.
Granted we didn’t win the World Cup of course, but it’s all part of the craic to be involved somehow, to get swept up in the tension, the fun and the ‘what if’. I remember it well, I would have only been nine or ten, but we watched every one of the matches with our team playing on a small fuzzy television. We did it while wearing knitted Ireland scarves and floppy green top hats! It’s this absolute support that we show any sport or person, no matter if you’ve never watched or followed it before, that really makes me proud to be Irish.
During Katie’s final match yesterday, 1.5 million people tuned in to watch it. Some business closed for it, others brought televisions and radios in to watch or hear it in work. In Bray, Katie’s home town thousands turned out to watch it on the big screens there. I loved this video of them all going mad and celebrating at the result.
The ESB (electricity company) has said the demand for electricity dropped by 6% for the duration of the match (and then jumped back up afterwards, as we all turned on the kettle for a cuppa, no doubt! Haha.)
Everything stopped when that first bell rang, the streets and roads were empty. Seriously. Total silence descended over the country as people watched the fight, and when she won, the screaming and the singing and the hollering began. Life restarted again, people flooded the streets, cars were back in traffic jams and all anyone could talk about was, ‘did you see the fight?’
(Here’s a brilliant video of Thai Tims singing about Katie, so cute and fantastic that a country so far away has people celebrating her. The tune is originally ‘The Wild Rover.’)
Even if you weren’t a fan of boxing before this, you’d end up at least being a fan of Katie Taylor’s, who is unbelievably hard working, modest and generous in her praise to her fellow fighters. She’s done more than win the country’s first gold medal, she’s given it’s people hope and happiness. To cap it all off, the summer seems to have come at last! We’ve had absolutely fantastic weather the last two days to coincide with the win. People are wandering round laughing, smiling and getting sunburned. For this weekend at least, we’re all glancing at each other with raised eyebrows and saying, ‘Recession? What recession!’
Long may it last!