Never ask a runner her time

I ran an 8k road race yesterday (in under 40 minutes)

Album Review: Strange Boats, Gnome

Strangeboats Album Artwork Front

GNOME is the debut album by West of Ireland band Strange boats. The LP fuses quirky guitar licks and bawdy lyrics, bringing together charming tunes.
The summer might be over but these songs will have you yearning for long summer days spent sitting on a patch of grass with nothing but a soft breeze and the laughter of your friends at your side.
The album opens with a quick, cheery song Sugar Delph, which is just under two minutes in length. This is followed by the catchy single Boys Walk Faster Than Girls.
The third chant My Baby, is a slower melodic tune that will leave you dreaming for someone somewhere.
The eighth track Slow Burner is a cheeky rendition of real raw love. The bold take on the nursery rhyme: “The age old tale of Jack and Jill. Down the old road for the morning after pill” preludes the mischievous line: “Don’t worry old man I won’t harm your daughter, just take her out for a cool glass of water.”
Sweet Onions, the closing track on the LP is a heart-wrenching acoustic ballad. The sweet violin adds to the tangible melancholy in the song.
Also, don’t miss the hidden track that swoops in a minute after you think it‘s all over. It’s brought to you by Leo Moran, the guitarist from Galway band The Saw Doctors. He recites Gnome, a poem by Samuel Beckett which the LP is named after.
Strange Boats launch Gnome in Canavan’s Pub, Tuam, Co Galway this Friday September 6. They also play t Oude Pothuys, Utrecht Netherlands on October 11 and Water Rats, Kings Cross, London on November 2.
The album will be available on iTunes from September 6 and from most record stores.
The album artwork is by artist Mike Dwyer of Factory Edge Design.

Stream the album for free:

Joyce Fahy – Broken Down Train Tracks

A poem I wrote.

Published in The Galway Advertiser

The Galway Review

321111Joyce Fahy is a journalist and bar person from Co Galway. She enjoys writing all sorts of stories, from non-fiction to fiction, extraordinary to mundane and sport to music. She loves trying new sports, meeting new people and going new places. She is fluent in German and lived in Dresden, Germany for a year.


Broken Down Train Tracks

Decrepit houses hang
below phone wires
Things don’t change but things don’t stay the same
They rot and fall away
Fading, growing old

As Broken down train tracks
Fill with empty bottles
Of tonic wine
And worn out school kids

Local gamblers yo-yo from bar to bookies
And stand around smoking and musing
As they shuffle their weary feet.

Small-town life is predictable and slow
Screaming out for a straggler
From a foreign place
To come and stir the dead.




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Abortion Laws are a nightmare from which I am trying to awake



James Joyce wrote, “history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” It’s never been truer than with the abortion case that has been on-going whilst staying stagnant and unchanged for decades.

In Ireland, abortion is permitted ‘to save the woman’s life or prohibited altogether’. Ireland has the same laws as heavily Roman Catholic countries and many developing countries. “Perhaps no other democratic society in the world has so totally surrendered its key functions to religious orders, as well as allowing the Catholic Church to inform its entire legal ethos.” said Kevin Myres in his recent article about Catholicism.

We need to talk about abortion in Ireland. But what we really need to do, is talk about it without mentioning the Catholic Church. But in Ireland we are incapable of doing so.  The Catholic Church is the institution that condemns sex before marriage but is ridden with paedophiles and sex scandals. The same institution condems homoxesuality but is ridden with hush-hush homosexual priests and nuns. The same religious capitalists banned the sale of contraceptives until 1979. And this very same institution that we look to for guidance on families and philosophy, belittles women by not allowing them to say mass, as only men are capable of such grandeur. But still, the Irish look to the Church on all things legal and moral and health related. Catholicism is our saviour in that regard, you see.

Growing up in a rural primary school, I felt awkward and guilty because I didn’t go to mass every Sunday like all the holy school kids. I made my communion and confirmation, but only because my school placed so much emphasis on it. I was glad I made them though because I earned some money on those occasions. When I admitted to friend’s parents that I didn’t believe in God, or mass, or marriage, they looked at me like I had fleas.

Yes, I get it. Abortion is seen as a sin in the eyes of the church. But what about the Irish who care more about the health, lives and wellbeing of women, than going to a fire blazing hell with a red tailed devil?

Yes, I get it. It’s not very nice to murder a baby that is growing inside a woman. But what if not doing so results in both the baby and the mother dead? Savita Halappanavr, an Indian national living in Galway died of septicaemia while pregnant.  The couple requested an abortion, but were refused even though their unborn child was miscarrying.

 According to the mass media, to prevent the spread of infection, staff should have considered performing an abortion – even before the couple requested it. But this is where things get hazy again. The Irish Central magazine published an article on February 6 of this year, saying “no evidence exists as yet as to what role, if any, Ireland’s anti-abortion laws played in the death of Savita Halappanavar. Never mind the observation made in the Hindu Times last November by Dr. Fema Divakar (who as a woman, non catholic, and head of India’s Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has more right than most to comment) that the delay in giving Savita an abortion was not only an unlikely cause of death, but that giving her the abortion earlier might have led to her dying earlier. And never mind that Ireland’s health services have been the subject of significant complaints and scandals regarding mismanagement, inefficiency and gross errors.” So what this journalist, Marc Coleman is saying is that abortion may not have been the answer here. Many pro-lifers believe pro-choicers are using Savita’s death as a an excuse to push abortion legislation.

What if Savita was given access to abortion in the Galway hospital and she still died? Well then it could be said that a woman was granted her dying wish. Instead of being told patronizingly by doctors: “this is a catholic country” and “our hands are tied”.

“Abortion is actually code upon a much larger discussion around women’s health,” says Dr. Nata Duvvury, lecturer and co-Director of Global Women’s Studies Programme in NUI Galway. “Reproductive rights is about ensuring universal access to safe, effective and affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning,” she added.

What if a woman is brutally raped and ends up pregnant? Could we forgive her for saying she cannot face giving birth to a baby? Every time abortion is mentioned these days, someone mentions the X case, or the A B and C cases. The X case involved a 14 year old girl made pregnant through a rape by a relative. She was refused permission to travel to England by a court which held that she would be committing a criminal act if the baby were aborted. A claim was made that the unwanted pregnancy had left her suicidal and therefore a conflict existed between her right to life and the life of her child. A State funded appeal was made to the Supreme Court.

In a surprise verdict, the Supreme Court, held that the threat of suicide constituted a “real and substantial risk to the life of the mother” and that in such an instance the equal right to life of the unborn child as envisaged by the 1983 Amendment could not mean an absolute equality, that in fact the rights of the child were “contingent” on the mothers right and, therefore, of lesser importance. In short, abortion became legal in Ireland by the same Constitutional provision which was designed to prevent that. The girl was permitted to travel to England for an abortion.

At least 7,000 Irish women go to England or Wales every year solely to have an abortion. And that number only includes the ones who give Irish addresses. The lovely Irish ethos, if you’re going to do it – do it and we’ll close our eyes and look away because we’re a catholic country. But not everyone can afford to travel to get an abortion, or may feel mentally or physically unable to do so. These women faced with an unwanted pregnancy are often forced to resort to untrained providers or to self induce abortion, which puts them at great risk of injury or death. Word Health Organisation estimates that unsafe abortion accounts for 13% of the half a million maternal deaths worldwide each year.

Now we come to my final point. The one a pro-lifer tried to make me agree on -that legalising abortion in Ireland would increase the amount of having abortions and we shouldn’t be encouraging that sort of thing. Abortion isn’t a temptation we are trying to resist! Women don’t aspire to have abortions, but if they feel they need to, we shouldn’t ignore their pleas. If a woman needs or wants to have one, then there should be doctors in Ireland to say something other than: “My hands are tied, this is a catholic country. No can do, madam.”



A day out for the Paddys


THE 17th of March is a proud day for the Irish. Gymnasts parade through town doing backflips on the road and traditional Irish music is played all day. Kids run riot eating multiple packets of Tayto crisps, not only because the crisps are an Irish symbol but because they’re the only bit of food to eat in many pubs. Bored teenagers get drunk in lush fields of green and adults stumble home, often before the sun goes down.
Saint Patrick had a drinking problem. That’s why we have to drink to him every March.  His drinking began as a lonely shepherd stuck in the desolate hills of rural Ireland, where he drunk whiskey to stay warm and pass the time. He also banished the snakes by poisoning them with alcohol.
The St Patricks day tradition has gone global. Every city seems to have a typical Irish pub these days and if you enter one in a foreign country on Paddy’s day and flaunt your Irish accent, demand free drink for the evening.
One country that has really taken to St Patty’s day is the United States of America. New York has a feckin’ huge parade. The first St Patrick’s parade ever was held in N.Y. Chicago river goes green with glee, along with Niagra Falls and numerous other buildings which are all illuminated like the luscious Emerald isle.

And they say the Irish use any excuse for a party.  At least we know what we’re commemorating. Right? Well, not exactly. But the Saint is a metaphor for everything Irish. Leprachauns, pots of gold, the colour green and alcohol consumption. Throw in a few tractors parading through the town square and mix it up with a badhrán, an old man sipping a pint and tapping away on the spoons and there you have it – Paddy’s day in Éire.
So how has the day become so popular throughout the world?  Alcohol branding and advertising? Maybe. Or are the alcohol companies just respecting St Patrick’s wish? Just like they decided to respect Arthur Guinness’ day of birth with a little party that seems to fall on a different date every year.
So if you’ve ever thought of getting a celtic cross tattoo, smoking from a pipe, attempting to make Irish stew, or simply just turning into a leprachaun, march 17 is the day to do it. Stick on the Pogues, watch some Father Ted and spend the day speaking the odd word of Gaeilge every few sentences. Have fun celebrating the patron Saint of Ireland on Sunday. Just don’t have too much fun.