Bray punch-drunk with pride as 'Katiefest' comes to seaside town
The football anthem mingled with the ‘olés’. For a moment we were in Italia 90 territory, writes RONAN McGREEVY
IT HAS been one long party in Bray this summer, and they’re not finished yet. The air show in July was the highlight of the month-long Bray Summerfest which was due to end yesterday, but has been put on hold for a few days for “Katiefest”.
Despite the overcast sky, there was a summery atmosphere on the seafront. On one side was a Big Wheel and various other attractions. At the far side were inflatable castles and slides. And in between, the greatest show on Earth: the Olympic Games.
Katie Taylor’s fight, which was shown on the big screen beside the bandstand on the seafront, attracted about 6,000 people yesterday.
Many took advantage of the bank holiday to travel from further afield. “I knew it would be a great atmosphere here and I knew she was going to win and I wanted to be part of that,” said Mary Morris from Dundalk.
The crowd packed into the bandstand area. Those who couldn’t make it inside watched from the balconies of adjacent hotels and craned their necks from the trestle tables in the beer gardens to catch a glimpse of the big screen.
Bray has been waiting for this day since Taylor won the World Championship back in May, ensuring she was only a single fight away from at least a bronze medal.
The seafront was resplendent with flags proclaiming pride not just in the local heroine, but also in the fighting garda Adam Nolan, who is from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, but stationed in Bray.
The mood was more expectant than nervous as Taylor entered the ring and the sound of the crowd in the ExCeL Arena, broadcast on the PA system from London, mingled with the sounds of seafront spectators.
Her first round was good if not emphatic, and there was slight apprehension at the end of the second, which ended 5-5. But the crowd began to relax when Katie won the third in a canter and finished out the fight in style.
When it was all over, the sounds of the football anthem Put ’Em Under Pressure joined the “olé, olé, olés” over in London but for a moment we were in Italia 90 territory.
Local band Coddle played their song Katie Taylor – Ireland’s Boxing Legend, which had been creeping up the Irish charts even before the local heroine took to the ring.
The action moves to Main Street in Bray tomorrow afternoon, where organisers hope to put the big screen in front of the town hall for her semi-final fight against Mavzuna Chorieva of Tajikistan.
Mayor of Bray Cllr Mick Glynn said months of planning had gone into preparing for yesterday, and more was to come.
“Hopefully we’ll have enough room for everybody on Wednesday. The town manager and officials have said that whatever support is needed, they will do, so that’s great,” he said.
The intention is to move the screen to the Ballywaltrim area of the town for the Olympic final if Taylor gets that far, though the mayor was at pains not to tempt fate. Nevertheless, he had a word with the organisers of the fireworks display in Bray to arrange something for Sunday should Taylor win gold.