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“I was surrounded. Everywhere I went it felt like they were watching me...fish-white flesh puckered by the highland breeze, tight eyes peering out for fresh meat. Screechy, booze-soaked voices hollering out for a taxi to take them halfway up the road to the next all-night watering hole. A shatter of glass. A round of applause. A sixteen year old mother of three vomiting in an open sewer; bairns looking on, chewing on potato cakes. I ain't never going back. Not never.”
Ballina (Irish: Béal an Átha - Town of the Many Hairy Undesirables) is the most-populated town in County Mayo in Ireland and the diocesan centre for the Catholic Diocese of Killala. It lies at the mouth of the River Moy near Killala Bay, with the Ox Mountains to the east and 'Here Be Dragons' sign to the west. Its Irish name has fallen into disuse due to it derogatory reference to the locals. Its alternative English names of Spoogeton, Knackerville or the tuam of the North is more in vogue.
Architecture, planning and housing
"Ballina is a gem of a town. The town centre has retained its historic appearance, avoiding the degree of modernisation seen in many Irish towns. Many of the shops and pubs have retained their Victorian and Edwardian style". - according to ireland.com. In fact the town's architectural character is a patchwork of crude mud dwelling and gutted warehouses that even a blind Calcutta orphan would turn his nose up at.
St Muredach's Cathedral, which is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Killala dominates the town. Work on the Cathedral began in 1827. The stone was quarried locally from the walls of Protestant's houses and the roof and potato-skin ceiling were completed before the Great Famine (1845). To celebrate its completion the townsfolk burned an estimated 25 tonnes of spuds in a massive bonfire. This was an act which they thought little of as another bumper crop was expected the next autumn.
Ballina is noted for its distinctive cuisine and parallels are often drawn between the Meditereanean diet and that of Ballina. It should be noted, however, that while their southern cousins enjoy a diet based on olive oil, low fat and high carbohydrates, people in Ballina prefer one based on fryer oil, low vegetables and high curry sauce. Local delicacies include Taco Fries, Curry Goat, Curry Taco Fries and Strawberry Curry Taco Fries. Noted eateries include Supermacs, Chipadora, Cafollas (bring your own sick bag), Kings Chinese and Supermacs again (yes, there are two). Food in Ballina should be eaten with the fingers and it is an atrocious taboo for one to place any rubbish, however small, in a bin.
Mini-fencing has been by far the most popular sport in Ballina for generation. The noble sport of the French Aristocracy is given a certain Ballinese twist. The blade used is smaller variant of the French sabre, little more than a few inches in lenght. The object is not to register as many hits a possible but to rather liberate your opponent from his wallet and other valuables. One major departure from its Olympic cousin is that this sport takes place with usually only one armed competitor with the other usually unaware that he is about to be engaged. Also, matches do not take place in a fencing hall but can occur anywhere, more often than not in a dark alley at 3 in the morning.
An opponent is engaged with a traditional challenge:
|Gimme yur fookin chips!|
Tourism injects valuable income into Ballina's economy much the same way an addict injects valuable heroin into his veins, it doesn't do the town any good really. The Salmon fishing in the river attracts tourists from all over Europe. They arrive with their camper vans, Hiaces and Transits.goatees and racks of onions and proceed to remain in the town for weeks after the last mangy salmon has squirmed its way up the repository of shopping trolleys the locals call the River Moy. For a town which already boasts a more than healthy population of vagrants it spells weeks of tension. Many an undeoderised French armpit has felt the sting of a Ballina knife after asking for a half-pint of lager or some other gay european drink.
Much work is done every day in Ballina to further perpetuate negative stereotypes of Irish drinkers. It is estimated that for each ad released in America by the Irish Tourism Board promoting Ireland, a Ballina man has to get into 3 fights and get sick twice to level it out. After consuming voluminous amounts of fermented vegetable water every night, the entire town descends on the local grease-mongers Supermacs. Many Ballina people began consuming alcohol at 15 months old and binge drinking is widespread and promoted.
Ballina is full of lovely,warm and generous people,particularily on a night out, when approached by a lovely group of people with their rolled up socks in tracksuit bottoms and henley hoodies, one can expect to be asked by the leader to `gimme a fag` as they are obviously concerned by the amount of tobacco you are consuming and are simply looking out for your health..however be warned: if you do not give them this said tobacco, they will be disgusted by your unhealthy actions and will therefore proceed to beat you to a bloody pulp..(or as the locals call it `givin` ya a bad baitin!`).They may then proceed to relieve you of your wallet so you will not purchase any more cancerous products or alcohol which they already worked out that you are already intoxicated enough for one night. Do not worry though..these lovely group of people (also referred to as `knackers or`tramps`)will spend their newly acquired finances on recession friendly beverages such as Dutch Gold and Buckfast.
Researchers in Moyne College say they have determined what men want in the "ideal woman": she is sexually inexperienced but likes sex, has a career but is a full-time homemaker, has a slim build, is athletic, and has pretty eyes, dark hair, good complexion and a firm butt. Large breasts are nice, but not all that important. The study's lead author, says the specifications are similar to what is found in the Bible. "Our participants, whether knowingly or unknowingly, espouse a view of the ideal woman that is very similar to the views held by individuals thousands of years ago." However, "It's hard to be this woman."