Race Week in Galway held earlier this month is Ireland's most famous Festival; it is when the rest of the country seems to pour like a tidal wave into the city to indulge in a 7 day extravaganza of gambling, drinking, frolicking, style, paddywackery & networking!! But all in good taste and humour.
The city abounds with fleets of helicopters setting the air a-buzzing; the very latest BMW & Mercs populating the hotel car- parks; restaurants and bars bursting at the seams; pink champagne flowing like tap-water; high class prostitutes turning tricks in city centre apartments & all-night card games offering pots of six figure sums.
The ruling political party –Fianna Fáil- host a special marquee tent at the Ballybrit race course where the captains and kings of business and industry come to pay homage and socialise with Bertie our honourable Taoiseach (prime minister). ‘Pay’ being the operative word as its 350Euro for a meal & seat in this illustrious tent!
Ladies' Day - A Race Course Full of Ireland's Most Beautifully Dressed Women
Thursday is ‘Ladies Day’ when women of all shapes & sizes dress up in their most beautiful finery to be praised and ogled.
From early in the morning, large groups of classy looking females wait at bus stops all over the city on their way to the race course.
Amazingly, once the event ended, hordes of girls in the most expensive dresses just take off their high heels and just walked the miles back to their city centre hostelries and hotels. There is something so refreshing about this attitude. People may dress up in fantastic clothing for the festival, but most are still just ordinary 'down to earth' folk underneath.
'All the Fun of the Fair'
So don’t believe for one minute that the city transforms into the playground for only the rich and famous.
The festival is an amazing egalitarian event when-for one week only-the ordinary office clerk rubs shoulders with aristocracy, gypsies, priests, farmers, alcoholics, hookers, politicians, beggars, tourists and billionaires. And there is something for all ages- from betting offices, bars, restaurants to fairground attractions.
It is in many ways a festival from Celtic pre-history when all members of the tribe would gather and stand equal on hallowed ground combining worship with sport, competitions and entertainment for all ages.
'Crazy Hat' Day!
One of the funniest events takes place on Sunday when girls and women (& a few men) wear "Crazy Hats'. The craftsmanship and time that people put into their headgear is absolutely fantastic. Fully fledged farm, stables and race tracks are recreated in the most detailed minuture to sit precariously on the top of people's heads!
For hours these ostentatious individuals walk and mingle with the crowds before gathering together for the awards ceremony.
This year's competition was judged by none other than Rosanna Davision, the former Miss Ireland and daughter of the internationally renowned musician Chris de Burgh.
There is nothing else quite like the Galway Races on this planet!