\"Gort,

Gort, County Galway, is dancing to a samba beat as hundreds of Brazilian residents celebrate international event. Photo by: RTE

Small Irish town known as “Little Brazil” gets World Cup fever

\"Gort,

Gort, County Galway, is dancing to a samba beat as hundreds of Brazilian residents celebrate international event. Photo by: RTE

A sleepy west of Ireland town will dance to a samba beat on Friday, as hundreds of Brazilian immigrants gather to cheer on their heroes in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Gort in Co. Galway became known as 'Little Brazil' during the Celtic Tiger years when workers from the South American country moved in their droves to the then-booming town.

But the economic downturn saw the south Galway town become one of the worst-hit in the recession, forcing most of the Brazilian population – which once numbered 1,500 – to pack their bags and return home.

However, despite Brazil's lackluster performance in tournament to date, a carnival atmosphere is building up in Gort ahead of tonight's crunch game against Colombia.

And the party is expected to reach fever-pitch later tonight if the World Cup favorites beat their South American neighbors and progress to the semi-finals.

Most of Gort's estimated 300 Brazilians will turn popular Hennellys bar in the town center into a mini-Maracana as they gather there tonight to cheer on their heroes.

And pub worker Josephine Lally said the local Samba Boys have given their business its biggest boost in years.

She said: "We're showing all the games here, but the Brazil matches have been brilliant. It's a full house in here whenever they play and it's done wonders for business.

"There'll be between 200 and 250 Brazilians out at the back of the pub partying and celebrating. We have a big screen outside for them and we let them have a barbecue.

"If they make it to the final, it's going to be an unbelievable night."

However, local Independent Councillor Michael Fahy said not everyone in the hurling-mad rural town is dancing to the samba beat.

He said: "We all want Brazil to do well of course, but for most people the only match that matters is the hurling game between Galway v Tipperary on Saturday. And you'd find most pubs here would be showing that match ahead of the World Cup."

And a barman in Dicey Reily's pub in the town center said: "All the pubs have different clientele and we only show the racing. This is the pub to come into if you want a good tip."

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