Ireland's 'Little Brazil' kicks off colourful World Cup celebrations
Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30
It was once known as Little Brazil – with immigrants making up a third of the town's population during the boom. And Gort is still flying the country's colours for the World Cup.
While the numbers of Brazilians living in the Galway town have dropped from 1,400 to 300, those that remain are determined to cheer just as loudly for their home side when they take to the pitch today to play Croatia.
Sara Bueno (32) has lived in Gort for the past 12 years. Originally from Goias in Brazil, she and her family were eagerly awaiting the World Cup to cheer on their home team.
"A local bar is putting up a big screen for all the games and all the Brazilians will go there to watch them. We are lucky in that the games won't be on too late.
"I really think we could win, everyone is so excited. I've bought Brazilian jerseys for all the kids and they won't take them off ," she said.
Sara added that the celebrations in Gort would be like Carnival if Brazil managed to clinch the title.
"I'm so disappointed that I can't be at home for this, but we'll celebrate as if we were at home," she said.
Annie Rosario, who runs the Gort Resource Centre, said the town was backing their Brazilian community wholeheartedly.
"A lot of people went back home since the recession, but many stayed because their children were in school here. It's brilliant to see all the young Brazilian kids on the streets playing football or hurling and we're all hoping they will win," she added.
For Walterly Ollivera Jnr (9), who was born and reared in Galway, it was a small relief that Ireland hadn't made it to the World Cup. "I'm supporting Brazil of course," he insisted – but paused when asked who he would have backed if Ireland had made it through.
"I don't know. I don't know if Brazil will win, I am worried about Spain," he said.
Eduardo Bueno (15) who is in third year in the local secondary school has managed to get his class supporting Brazil. Eduardo, who moved to Ireland in 2012, is confident that the side will win the tournament. "I'm 100pc sure we will win it. I'm not worried about the other sides except maybe Spain. I'll get to watch all the games here but I wish I was in Brazil," he said.
His sister, Laryssa (8), was born in Ireland – and says she would like to have been supporting the Boys in Green. But big sister Rayssa (13) has also turned her classmates into Brazilian supporters.