Cheryl, Britney and pals are talk of the town
Cheryl Cole, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and their pals were very much on the minds of (mostly male) students in Galway yesterday.
Now, there are those who might think that this would be an everyday occurrence for young men of a hormone-rich age.
Not so. This was a once-in-a-blue-moon event as NUI Galway played host to the European Universities Debating Championships. It's the first time the Galway university has hosted the event for speakers from 23 countries (Qatar and Israel are also competing).
Tournament director Jackie Driscoll said they had to work very hard to win the right to stage the competition.
"Over the last couple of years, we've been to Amsterdam, Tallinn, Newcastle and Koch in Turkey, and we bid for this a year ago -- but really two years of work has gone into this," she said.
An organising committee of 12, backed up by dozens of volunteers -- including a team from Amsterdam who offered their services -- are catering for the 184 teams.
For the rest of the week, they'll talk themselves to a standstill on a total of 15 motions, before the winning team and top individual speaker will be crowned.
"No, there's no big prize at the end of it -- it's not that sort of competition. Just a trophy -- and most importantly -- the prestige of being European champions," said Ms Driscoll.
Presidential hopeful, Michael D Higgins was hardly chasing votes when he did the honours at the opening ceremony. He spoke eloquently as usual about the power of words, many millions of which he'll be uttering between now and October 27.
But back to Cheryl and Lindsay and the rest of the girls. The most interesting motion for debate yesterday was "that this house would not allow the media to cosmetically enhance the appearance of individuals". Perish the thought.
John Beechner of University College Cork proposed it, accusing the glossy magazines of not presenting reality with their touched-up photographs of the celebrity set.
They were giving Cheryl and her pals an unattainable beauty and basically driving the young ones who read the stuff mad. While there were standards for what was being printed, there was no regulation in respect of photographs.
But Fiachra Fallon of Trinity College Dublin was fast out of the traps to deliver the unkindest cut to John's argument. "There's no boy who sits at home and won't go to the disco because he's saving himself for Cheryl Cole," he said.