Oh Wow, back in Paris 12 hours after leaving Lyon and I am a broken and happy human. I made a last minute decision to travel to Lyon (as did half of Ireland) when Ireland got through to Round 16 in the Euros. I had no match ticket (at the time) and no accommodation but I was determined to be there. And what a decision it was. 30 hours in a city that temporarily became the Capital of Craic.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘Craic’ is an Irish word with a variety of meanings and there’s no direct English translation for it. Dictionary.com defines it as;
Craic: noun [krak]; fun and entertainment, especially good conversation and company
I can honestly say I don’t think i’ve experienced a party like I did down there. The Irish and French fans alike were just on the session and every street corner you turned there was singing, dancing and kicking of footballs onto balconies. Everyone got involved. From afar, you would think we were the height of nuisance, being loud, making a mess and closing roads – but up close, everyone enjoyed the atmosphere. We saw tourists getting involved with kicking the ball around, Police gathering around ‘just to have a look’ and locals driving past beeping horns and cheering out their car windows. I love how the fans brought everyone together and kept up the laughter.
Irish fans even sang the French national anthem in Lyon the night before the match..
They serenaded the French police (again) whilst being moved off the road in Lyon. Note, this was after the match, ya know, when we were kicked out of the Euros and should have been drowing our sorrows.
And you can feel the emotion in the stadium as the fans belt out Fields of Athenry to thank and send off the team. Feel the love.
In all seriousness, I think in this volatile political and economical time we are in, having this injection of lightheartedness and fun is exactly what the world needs. With Britain leaving the EU and the unrest in France, everyone needed a pick me up, and I think the Irish fans did just that. They got everyone involved and saught to make them smile. These last two weeks extend far beyond a European football tournament and the positivity and incredible atmosphere will continue to lift spirits for a long time to come. I for one am proud to be Irish and honoured to have been part of this hilarious and emotional journey.