December Fridays in Dublin city centre are always special, with the shops, streets, restaurants and bars thronged, as day merges into evening and on into night. It’s a great time to be out in town, with a real pre-Christmas buzz in the air.
Which made the timing for yesterday’s inaugural Christmas lunch with the Mayo senior team, hosted by Cairde Mhaigheo in the sumptuous surroundings of the Great Room in the Shelbourne Hotel, pretty much spot-on. Over 250 Mayo GAA people – current and former players, management, County Board, sponsors and supporters – sat down to lunch in the Shelbourne yesterday, which was followed by a lively Q&A discussion hosted by Mike Finnerty and featuring a number of players and officials, as well as manager Stephen Rochford.
It was a cracking occasion, the principal aim of which was to raise funds for the team’s upcoming Asian holiday, where a strongly positive and upbeat mood was evident throughout. There was plenty of talk about on-field events, and the Holy Grail we all still long to reach, but it was also a great opportunity to mix and mingle with like-minded people in the relaxed, festive surroundings.
The intention, I gather, is that the event is an annual one. This is an eminently sensible move, given the large Mayo community in Dublin and the ready opportunity that exists for fundraising to be done in such convivial circumstances.
Hats off, then, to Cairde Mhaigheo, including the folk from London whom it was good to see were there in such strong numbers yesterday, and to the County Board for hosting a hugely successful event. Well done too to the players and management for getting so strongly behind it. I’d say I’m not the only one who has put a mark in the diary for twelve months time in anticipation of next year’s festive gathering.