"When We Were Young": Student Days & Nights at UCG’s Rag Week


I feel really sorry for the present generation of students at GMIT & NUIG including my son Dáire.

For this is the week, when in my student days (& nights!) at UCG we hosted College Week (aka Rag Week), a wonderful fun 7 days events programme before most (well some!) of us began the serious stuff of study and exam preparations.
And what an action packed week it was!
There was the Mr & Ms College Week auditions in the Skeff; live music from the best local/national/international bands every night in Leisureland; the clubs in Salthill bursting at the seams dancing to the disco sounds of DJs Gerry Sexton, the K-Tel kids..; Kissing Competitions in the Concourse (Mike Jennings - didn't you win it one year?), the Crazy Boat Race; the Greasy Pole competition over the Eglinton Canal; the male & female Pub Crawl (on stretchers!) Races, the Tug-of-War & other field sports; the kidnappings of bishops and college lecturers held until a ransom (for charity- all good fun though!) was paid over; the streakers running through crowded lecture halls; the myriad of 'social action' activities provided by SAM (Social Action Movement); the crazy ‘pogo’ lunchitime dancing in the (canteen) basement; and the grand finale- the 'Fancy Dress Ball' on the Saturday Night with musical acts such as Bob Geldof & the Boomtown Rats, U2.....
All coordinated by a College Week Director- Ollie Jennings was director one year and Patrick Gillespie another year(I was lucky to be Pat's assistant!) with Padraic Boran, UCG SU Ents Officer securing the big music acts.
The city was rocking!! In spite of the craziness though, there was very little alcohol consumed per student. Unless we won a beer keg in a competition we did not have the money then to afford more than a few beers per night. Outside Rag Week, for most of us it was alcohol, the pub & the dance club only on Thursday nights. Overall the week was all good (largely clean!) fun with no violence and, except for small amounts of cannabis, no drugs. There were great prizes for the winners of the competitions. In 1981, our house in Hazel Park enjoyed a party night when 2 kegs (prizes!) of beer were enjoyed by residents and guests! I never got a drop though- I was dancing the night away in the 'Beach' nightclub!
In 1978 one of my house mates won Mr College Week- it meant free tickets to all of the main gigs!
The photo shows the cover of the independent student Unity magazine in the year that I was editor. The brilliant artwork was done by my good friend of the time Marie Drumgoole, a Medical student with an extraordinary artistic touch.

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