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'There's an odd free pint' - Mayo fans embracing 'celebrity' status after New York photo

Bernard Waldron and his friends were in Times Square when they posed for a photo that would make them an online sensation.

Bernard Waldron, Sean Tighe and John Devaney have all become local celebrities in Ballyhaunis.
Bernard Waldron, Sean Tighe and John Devaney have all become local celebrities in Ballyhaunis.

THREE BEST FRIENDS from Mayo have been inundated with phone calls from all over the world throughout the last two weeks after a trip to New York made them an online sensation.

Bernard Waldron, Seán Tighe and John Devaney are the three men standing in a photo in Times Square that has been retweeted over 6,000 times. They attend every Mayo match together and were over in the Big Apple to watch James Horan’s men kick-off their Connacht SFC campaign with a comprehensive win.

The person who took the snap, Christina Boniello, was trying to reunite the men with the picture after they told her they had no phones with them to capture the photo themselves.

“You’ll take the picture and we’ll find it some day,” Devaney told her, thinking that the trio would never see the photo again.

Mayo Source: Christina Twitter.

But a major online effort brought the image from New York to Ireland within two hours, making local celebrities out of the Mayo friends in the process.

“It’s a mighty reaction all together,” Ballyhaunis native Waldron tells The42 of their newfound status. “We’re getting texts and calls from all over the world, even one from Abu Dhabi yesterday. 

Every place we go we’re treated like celebrities. There’s an odd free pint alright.

“The three of us are best friends and here we are in Times Square, our photo is taken and it arrives back nearly before we did.

“My eldest daughter has Down Syndrome and she goes to rehab in Castlebar. She’s told them all ‘my Dad is famous.’”

The term viral sensation was one that Waldron had never encountered before. He mistakenly thought his daughter Áine was talking about an illness when she first came across the trending photo.

I don’t have a virus,” he said to her at the time, before discovering the impact the image was having on social media.

In a time where the internet has become associated with so much ill in the world, Waldron was delighted to be involved in something that demonstrated the positive side of social media.

“There is a lot of bad PR about social media but it has its very good points too.

They tell us we’ve done more for Ballyhaunis, Mayo and Mayo GAA than has ever been done before. We put Ballyhaunis on the map. Sometimes towns and villages get famous for the wrong reasons but this is all good.”

Waldron and his friends were also part of a separate event which caused a stir on social media. Before the game against New York, Mayo fans converged on Times Square for a huge gathering. Video clips showed them all in full voice, and Waldron was honoured to be there.

“There were 10,000 Mayo fans in Times Square on the Saturday evening. It was just a sea of green and red. We were there and it was amazing. It was beautiful to see.

We took over Times Square. Even the police arrived, someone must have sent in a report that there was going to be a riot in Times Square. And then they arrived and saw it was us.

“It was very emotional. You can imagine if we won Sam.”

The photo has already been framed and sits proudly in the Waldron home, while the group have also been in contact with their photographer Christina. A reunion will happen in time.

But for now, their attention will turn to the Connacht SFC semi-final against Roscommon later this evening in Elverys MacHale Park [throw-in, 7pm]. Mayo are looking to reach the decider for the first time since 2015, having crashed out in the All-Ireland qualifiers last year.

Waldron, who previously served as a selector with the Mayo minors and U21s, is hopeful they’ll have a longer campaign this year.

“I think if we can get over the Rossies, then we’ll have Galway in the Connacht final. And if we get over that we’ll have the Super 8s and then the semi-finals and we’d love to be with the Dubs on All-Ireland final day.

“We’ve good time for the Dublin supporters but we’re going to try and stop them from getting five in a row.”

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