Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mayo Curse

Yesterday morning I was chatting with a woman in town. She was talking about how different the bright sunshine was from the day before, which was grey, windy, and very wet. I mentioned that the way the sun was hitting the building made Susie's Bar stand out even more than usual.

photo by Bill Burke
She laughed and said it was not always that colour, but was painted in Donegal yellow and green when Donegal won the Sam Maguire cup (for winning the All Ireland in Gaelic football) a few years ago and it has stayed that way since. Donegal is not in the finals this year, but I commented that maybe Mayo can beat Dublin this coming Sunday and bring Sam to the west. She said everyone in Donegal is going for Mayo.

I'd assumed this to be the case since Mayo flags and buntings have been popping up in these small Inishowen towns, including Moville. Annie's Bar down the street has the Mayo flag flying.
I mentioned that we'd lived in Mayo for a year and she told me that Mayo people are so very nice. I agreed. She asked me whether I'd heard of the Mayo curse. When I told her I had not, she explained it to me.

It seems that years ago, the last time Mayo won Sam, they were celebrating and lighting bonfires along the roads, as you do (apparently). There was a funeral going on while these celebrations were ongoing and the celebrants did not stop for the hearse. Laughing, she said that the story is that the priest placed a curse on Mayo football at that time and they have not gotten Sam back since.

So, will this be the year that Mayo breaks the curse? There are a lot of people all over the island that are hoping that they will. As in some other places I have lived, the rural-urban divide is alive and well. I have been reminded of Alaska at times, where people in the interior and elsewhere would say stuff like, 'Pft, she's from Anchorage. That's not REALLY Alaska.' I could see what they meant. We lived in Fairbanks, which was very different than Anchorage and much more isolated. Then again, Alaska is so big and varied that there are simply many different Alaskas, not just one. The same mindset exists here about Dublin. People have asked me about what various things are like 'in Ireland.' I very quickly learned that it is often close to meaningless to talk about 'Ireland' as a single thing. There is Dublin and a couple of other urbanish areas and then there is the rest of the country, where things are vastly different. I have not been to Dublin yet and to be honest, I have no desire to go, although I probably will someday, I suppose. I have learned through the years that I am someone who feels at home in a rural setting. There are some small cities I can enjoy for short periods of time, but these are few and far between. I am much happier walking around in small villages. Whenever there is a competition between Dublin and Mayo or Donegal, I will go for the underdog from the west.

I made my Mayo embellished rock the other day
and I can get out the little Mayo flag I made to hang in a window in Ballinrobe--
these double as Christmas decorations--the colours are convenient. :-)

Here's to breaking the curse this year! As they say in Ballinrobe, 'Up Mayo!!'

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