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With "crazy drinking" and p***ing in the street, one Galway chef has had enough of 'The Races'

JP McMahon will shut his Michelin star restaurant next year.

Day four of the festival in Ballybrit yesterday.
Day four of the festival in Ballybrit yesterday.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A MICHELIN STAR chef says he’ll close his restaurant during next year’s Galway Races because the “crazy” drinking that goes on in the city makes it not worth his while.

JP McMahon says that a member of his staff at the Aniar restaurant was verbally abused by one young woman who was leaning against the restaurant window and urinating in the street.

The chef says that there’s constant public drinking in the city during the week of the festival but that Ladies’ Day is “just a disaster”.

Someone was up against the window and was pissing outside the restaurant. We tried to get them to move. One of our female staff went over to her and said ‘do you mind?’. All she got back was an aggressive ‘mind what?’

Galway’s race week runs for seven days on the final week in July with the packed Ballybrit Racecourse a pilgrimage for horse racing fans.

The social aspect to the festival is always as much of a draw as the racing itself but McMahon believes that in the last five years it’s become much more focused on alcohol.

“I don’t know what it brings out in the town. The town goes crazy with alcohol,” he says.

The balance between food and drinking seems to have disappeared and fallen to the lowest common denominator. It’s to the pub and to the chip shop and that’s it.

He compares the scenes in the town to St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin and says that it’s a bizarre site seeing everyone in suits given their level of drunkenness.

“The look well-dressed and they head out and then they come back looking like animals,” he says.

McMahon says that he tries to stay out of the city as much as he can during the festival and that many other locals do the same.

This affects his business because the locals aren’t eating in the restaurant and because many of the festival-goers who book to eat at Aniar simply don’t show up for their booking.

If they do they’re often drunk, he says.

If you have someone in from the States this week and then you get a group in from the races who are drunk then it sets a bad bar.

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The chef says that they’ve had instances of drunk race-goers falling asleep in the restaurant and of others getting sick on the doorstep.

On average, McMahon says they have about 28 people in the small restaurant on an average night but that during race week that drops to about 10 because of cancellations and locals staying away.

This drop means that he’s now decided not to open Aniar during the races week next week.

“Something has to be done. Especially among the young people because many aren’t drinking in the pubs, they’re all getting steamed up during the day. Even to curb street drinking that would make a difference” McMahon says.

Asked for the number of arrests in the five days of the festival so far, the Garda Press Office says it was unable to provide a number of public order arrests in Galway City.

Read: Spare a thought for the Galway Races punter who woke up to his bar receipt this morning… >

Read: This messer was caught horsing around behind an RTÉ report from the Galway Races >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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