A Golden Age of Student Life in Galway.
“ We were part of one of the first generation to benefit from third level state grants and free post-primary education. With the arrival of the multi-national corporations; the introduction of new technologies; the movement from the countryside to the cities, fierce public debates on family planning, homosexuality, and other once strictly taboo social issues as well as the violent conflict in Northern Ireland, the country was experiencing unprecedented change. At times it was enjoyable, oftentimes fractious and sometimes painful especially as the ‘Troubles’ in the North gathered momentum. The students of this era were true pioneers being both recipients and initiators of this new Ireland.
“On a personal level, many that came to UCG (University College Galway) then were the first members of their families ever to attend a third-level college. Our moms and dads were very proud and expected great things from their sons and daughters. But for us Galway was a pure teenager’s dreamland! We found ourselves for the first time living away from home with no real constraints surrounded by thousands of young active people of our own age in a city that was populated not only with third level students but with young people working in the hospitals, factories, public services, supermarkets, nightclubs and bars as all these sectors were then experiencing unprecedented growth. In spite of the temptations before us, most of us adjusted remarkably well! Many of our colleagues left an enduring legacy nationally but especially locally as Galway City began to transform into an internationally renowned economic and cultural hub.”
GIBS in Seapoint; Social Action Week; ‘Homes for Young Families’ campaign; Lisdoonvarna festivals; late night Toga Parties; Terry Smith playing guitar outside the Claddagh Palace; afternoon coffee in ‘Peggys’; hitch hiking home at weekends; discos at the Aula, Rivelinos, Beach and International; the ‘Slow Dance’; ‘Kelly and Taylor’ Band in the King’s Head; Boomtown Rats in Smokie Joes; U2 in Leisureland; gigs in Teac Furbo; the disc jockeys known as Big G and the ‘K-Tel Kids’; ‘Fir Bolgs’; ‘Mná Bolgs’; ‘Garbage’ magazine; lectures in the Latin Hall; Student Union marches and occupations; ‘Stickies’, ‘Revolutionary Struggle’, ‘Trots’ & Fine Gael’s ‘Young Tigers’; the furore over Rag Week Fund-Raising for the Galway Family Planning Centre; ‘Dick’ rag mag; H-Block Protests; ‘Opus Dei’; ‘Campus Crusade’; ‘Crusade for Satan’; Dolly Birds in the Skeff…”
-Brendan ‘Speedie’ Smith (student 1975-’81)