Saturday 27 May 2017

Girls just can't throw but mayor's still a good sport

Grainne Cunningham

SO girls really can't throw -- Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello reluctantly proved the old prejudice yesterday as she took part in the annual "casting of the spear" ceremony at Dublin Port.

Every year the new Lord Mayor re-enacts the tradition started by Thomas Mayler in 1488 when he rode his horse east as far as the land would carry him and then launched his spear into the waves to mark the boundaries of the city.

Modern lord mayors chuck their weapons from aboard a tug, rather than from the saddle of a horse. The story goes that, in his day as lord mayor, Bertie Ahern managed to cast the spear about 30ft. Yesterday, poor Ms Costello had trouble getting it away from the boat.

Her first attempt struck the prow and slid into the sea. The second and third efforts simply obeyed gravity and dived directly downwards, much to the frustration of the photographers trying for a shot of the spear flying through the air. To be fair to Ms Costello, she was hindered by her heavy chain of office and the admiral's hat which she wore as honorary admiral of Dublin Port. But she remained a good sport, despite having to accept that she was never going to be a champion javelin thrower. "It's getting better. I should have gone into training for this," she said, smiling.

Eventually, Ms Costello was directed to the top of a flight of steps to unleash the spear, and the grateful photographers got the shot they had been looking for.

Behavioural scientists argue that girls don't throw as well as boys because they are less likely to spend their childhood tossing stones and balls.

Ms Costello might also have proved another prejudice about women and maps yesterday as not once did she cast the spear eastwards, as tradition demands. But the direction of her throws was dictated by the men behind the cameras, so they can claim credit for that.

The spear is actually not really a spear at all. It is a wooden stick with a carved wooden point at the end, which is painted silver.

Dublin Port chief executive Enda Connellan admitted that they had lost a few over the years. So now a strong rope is tied to the end of the spear so that it can be easily retrieved.

Irish Independent

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