Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thing 312 The Gallowgate

First and foremost, Glasgow is a really lovely city. The people are fantastic, the city centre is hopping on the weekends, and is, according to The Thief, among the best shopping you can do anywhere in Britain and Ireland. I want to make that clear now, because what I'm saying after might give the impression that I didn't like or enjoy my trip. I did, but The Gallowgate is something else. Something really to be seen. It will not translate well into this blog, but I'll give it a shot. At very least, I'll be a valiant loser in the effort. I've been some form of loser or other for many years now...

So, important to remember: I like Glasgow. Keep that in mind.

Now... The Gallowgate, and the Barrowlands (also known as The Barras) are in Glasgow's East End. The Barrowland Market is like nothing I've ever seen. I've been in a Honk Kong market before, and it had nothing on the absolute bedlam of Barrowlands. I'm nearly certain that there's nothing that can't be bought there. A few years back the local law enforcement started clamping down on illegally obtained goods, be they forgeries or stolen, so now those items are under the counter, but can be picked up by asking. Mind you, if they think you're not who you say you are, then you're in for a tough time. Apparently. I wouldn't know. There was no way on earth I was going to be brave enough to try asking, with my big tourist head and google-eyes on me.

Limerick City has a nasty reputation here and abroad. Sometimes it's justified. There are some pretty shit people living here and they've got guns. Mostly though, Limerick is a beautiful city, with a rich history and a proud sporting tradition, and at least we're doing something about the problems here, and not pretending they don't exist... not looking at any other Irish cities in particular. Ahem. The point is, that I'm sure Glasgow is the same...

Look, I'm walking on eggshells here, I may as well come out and say it: The Gallowgate is dog-rough. A fight broke out in a bar we were in because one of the guys there had a blue tshirt on. No kidding. One guy legged it out of the bar, and the next time the front door opened, the guy who'd legged it, fired an empty vodka bottle in. OVER A BLUE T-SHIRT.

That's the thing, in that part of Glasgow, you better be wearing Green. There are old Irish ballads blasting out of shops as you walk passed. The bars are covered in Irish flags, Celtic jerseys, scarves and pictures of Irishness. The locals have Scottish accidents, they were born in Glasgow and their parents probably were too, but they're not Scottish. They're Irish. Don't call them Scottish. They don't like it.

"Let the People Sing", "Sean South", "Joe McDonnell" are played, over and over. And you'll walk from one bar to another and the music doesn't change. It's Irish songs or nothing. A five minute cab drive into the city and you can't get in anywhere with a jersey or any club insignia, but here, wearing one is the best way to let everyone else know that you're on their team too.

Which is where the nice bit of it comes in: I don't know how many times I was told that I was "welcome to the world's largest family". Everywhere I walked it was "hail hail". Celtic fans in Glasgow absolutely love other Celtic fans. The atmosphere is incredible and the banter and the singing is pretty much nonstop, as long as you're aware of the little details mentioned above.

God... I haven't even come close to describing it properly, but I can safely say that my trip to the Gallowgate was one of the most unique experiences ever. I also ate "neeps and tatties". Gotta love making food a Project Thing. Even if it is weird.

P.S. Have I mentioned that I really like Glasgow? I have? Good.

1 comment:

  1. Youve been to "Honk Kong market"!?!
    And Im surprised you didnt make bigger deal of everyones "Scottish accidents".

    You in a hurry Dan?