I didn’t realise today when I wrote the piece on the taxi driver story that I might know this lad or would know someone that knew him.
It took me precisely one phone call to get set up for a chat with him this evening.
The phone traffic went from my spot in West Donegal across to Scotland then back across to the other side of the mountain here to the neighbouring parish of Gaoth Dobhair.
In fact the last time I was in that parish I was listening to this young fella singing in Séan Ógs bar the night that Celtic played Elfsborg away last August.
That entire vignette seems to sum up for me how connected this part of Ireland and Glasgow are.
I asked him in this own words to tell me what had happened and here it is:
“My name Is Anthony Blair I am from Upper Dore Bunbeg, Gaoth Dobhair County Donegal.
I am a student of St. Patricks College Drumcondra, Studying to be a primary school teacher.
I am a member of a band called Na Sinnanigans.
Myself and my Brother Joe, were in Glasgow visiting relatives. After a night out on Sunday the 16th, Kathleen our cousin who we had gone out with, had booked a private cab home. When we were in the taxi, I was sitting with my back to the taxi and turned around and to ask the taxi driver how much it would cost. He told me. I then turned back around to talk to my brother in Irish. The driver then insisted we stop speaking Irish in his taxi. He thought we were speaking about him, which we weren’t. I then asked the taxi driver what he had meant to which he replied ‘You can’t speak that in here’, I then said excuse me what? My cousin Kathleen who we were in the taxi then asked what he had meant. He insisted we were not to speak Irish in the taxi and we then told him that if it bothered him that much to stop the taxi and that we would get out. So he did. So we got out without paying the fare. He then drove off.
I was however I was more surprised at the spokesman’s attempt to wave the issue by saying that we had abused an elderly taxi driver after a concert on the Tuesday night which we were not at as we had gone home on the Monday.
However, I think the most shocking aspect of this is what the spokesperson for the taxi company said about Donegal people visiting Britain and being drunk.
I think this just plays to a tired old stereotype.
In fact when the taxi arrived we had been at the house of a friend in Shawlands for over and hour and a half and we hadn’t been drinking since we left the pub.
My parents were both born in Glasgow, but three of my four grandparents are from Gaoth Dobhair.
I am a native Irish speaker, it is my first language and my brother Joe and I would speak to each other in the language all the time.”
Big cities in the UK spend lots of money to entice visitors to spend their cash.
However without any advertising campaigns or PR marketing pish, people from Donegal will visit Glasgow to see their family year in and year out.
Moreover when they’re there they spend lots of money in a city that is currently hit by a recession.
If I were these Glasgow touristy people then I’d be rather grateful to daoine ó Dhún na nGall and I would send that message out.