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Live Music In Galway And Fun In Sporting Emporium

by Padraig Parkinson |  Published: Jan 31, '24


Galway has always been a magnet for gamblers and poker players from home and abroad. Whether you’re traveling for the iconic Race Week, the annual horse racing festival with poker around the clock in the Eglinton Club, or one of Fintan’s magical poker festivals, it’s advisable to arrive fresh as it can be difficult to sleep there because of the fear you might miss something.

Normally, the craic doesn’t start until you get to town, but this year the craic surrounding the Irish Poker Tour in association with Paddypower Poker Galway event got off to a flying start on the train. Luckily, Mary was with me and Dublin player Peter was seated nearby so I have witnesses. Otherwise, you might be tempted to think I have lost my mind completely when I tell you what happened.

It all started as we were approaching Athenry and a group of elderly gentlemen talked an old guy who was about the size of a 2 liter Coke bottle into playing a tune on his harmonica. He stood in the middle of the carriage and started to play The Fields Of Athenry with great gusto. The passengers started to sing along. Some of them even knew some of the words. By the end of the tune, the whole carriage was in full voice and gave the little guy a huge ovation.

The guy might not give Neil Young sleepless nights but at least he was there. For an encore, he played a jig. He not only played it, but performed one as well. A kind of a Riverdance moment. This was considered a popular move by his new fans who further encouraged him by stamping on the floor, banging on tables and whooping at appropriate intervals.

I was thinking what a boost it could be to the tourist industry if this kind of entertainment could be added to future train journeys. I was also wondering if this guy had an agent when a guy who’d obviously misunderstood Irish Rail’s alcohol consumption policy approached our hero, told him to shut up (not his exact words) and proceeded to grab him by the throat.

There was no shortage of volunteers to jump to the musician’s aid but the attacker’s wife appeared and told him to sit down before they all got thrown off the train (not her exact words either). They sat down to a chorus of boos from the audience. It was pantomime season after all! But the show wasn’t over yet.

The musician spent a few moments checking his larynx and stuff like that and when he was satisfied all was well walked down to where his attacker was seated. He stopped right beside him and told him they were only having a bit of fun and most certainly had no intention of annoying anyone and that he was sorry if he’d taken offense. I’d like to tell you the attacker apologized too and it all ended with a handshake but that’s not quite what happened. Instead, he just said “You started it” (I think I missed a word). The audience started laughing hysterically and were still laughing when we got to Galway. And that didn’t disappoint either!

The craic in the Sporting Emporium has been good as ever. We had a student’s night in January which was great fun considering it took place right at the height of Storm Isha. One of our aims when we restarted poker in the club was to revive the spirit of fun that was the hallmark of Irish poker in the eighties. If it’s left up to this lot we will be fine.

Before Christmas I rang the godmother of Irish poker, the great Colette Doherty. In the seventies, Colette not alone crashed the party when she dared to take on the best male players in Ireland but she consistently beat them. That shut a few people up for sure. She won the first ever Irish Open and later won it again to shut up a few more. I have played with, dined with and laughed with Colette in Dublin, London, Las Vegas and Paris and it was always an education as well as being great fun.

Colette hasn’t been out too much since lockdown so I was surprised and delighted when she agreed to pre-Christmas lunch. Over a fun few hours Colette, her son Peter and his charming wife, popular Dublin player Namir and I had a great time. We even managed to talk Colette into agreeing to come to the Emporium to play 1-2 PLO for a few hours some evening soon. Don O’Dea, Scott Grey and Andy Black will be joining us too. I don’t know where this is going but I can’t wait to find out. Feel free to join in!

Padraig is currently involved with Jesse May in hosting Irish Pub Poker Tours for medium-sized corporate groups. For info you can contact him on Twitter @padraigpoker.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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