Thursday, September 17, 2015

On to Galway

I loved traveling by train--and by public bus, for that matter. The reason is probably that I've had little opportunity in my life to do either. And as a person who lives deep in the country and often spends several days seeing no one but my husband, I enjoy being around, and watching and listening to, people. Listening feeds both my writing and storytelling. People can be so interesting, can't they?

  For example, our car on the train from Limerick to Galway was pretty full. A man sat down in the seat facing us, apologizing for intruding. He realized we were Americans from our accents, and after a little bit we got into conversation. He was able to tell us about the places we were passing and some history of Ireland and the places we'd already been. It's a good thing he was with us because at one point the train reversed directions; had he not been there, we'd probably have panicked, thinking that we'd missed a stop of something.

I asked our companion if he was a teacher--he was holding a book and some notes, and the book was marked with bookmarks and post-it notes all through the pages. That said teacher or writer to me.

As it turned out, both guesses were correct. He was a retired teacher, and he is working on a book about his father's growing up years in Ireland about 100 years ago. A fascinating conversation ensued, including a tale of moonshining out in the Aran Islands that was absolutely hilarious. Since Mr. Hennigan is including that story in his book, I don't think I can tell it here, but I certainly look forward to being able to read and hopefully review his book here. So do be on the lookout for a book by Hal Hennigan in the future; it's sure to be a fascinating read.

Galway. What to say, where to start? I suppose at the beginning is best. Once again, we asked for directions to our hotel at the station. We were a little dismayed to find it was quite a ways out, and a cab would cost at least 12 euros. However, the bus stop was close by, and buses ran every 15 minutes during the day. We lugged our suitcases to the stop and marveled at this crowded, bustling city with so many buses and taxis it almost rivaled Dublin.

On the bus we were a little worried about getting off at the right stop. Not to worry, said a young male passenger. When I get off, your stop will be 3 stops after. He smiled and our fears disappeared. As he was getting off the bus, he spoke to the driver, telling him to be sure to tell us when it was our stop. How kind was that?

We wondered what the crowd outside was all about. People were well-dressed and holding champagne glasses as we came trundling up the walk, a bit ragged and worn from our travels. And then a small Renault convertible swooped into the drive, and a bride's veil trailed in the breeze. It was a wedding, and we were arriving at the same time as the newlyweds! A cheer went up, lots of huzzahs and raised glasses! I told a couple people how nice to have such a welcome for two weary travelers, and we all laughed as Theresa and I tried to make our way through the happy crowd.

Irish weddings, we learned, go on for 3 days or more. This party was just beginning. We managed to find our room, our first with a disappointing view, but it was huge, with large beds and a wall of windows. We cleaned up and called a cab to take us back downtown. Our train companion had suggested a place called Tig Coili's for music so we began our stroll down the infamous Shop Street, place of street performers, much shopping, music and lots of people.

We did find dinner, but not at the place we were looking for. It was packed, and there was no music yet. A man on the street sent us to a different place which was much quieter. After dinner we took off for a stroll to see whatever we could of Galway since the next day we would be gone all day on a tour.

Lots to see! I learned about the Hen and Stag parties: apparently on weekends ladies and men about to be married dress up with their friends in outlandish costumes and descend on Shop Street. It seemed we were surrounded by young love in Galway.

The Joke Shop sign read "perfect for your hen or stag party!"

I even met Oscar Wilde on Shop Street. He seemed a little cold...and metallic...

We managed to wind our way through the crowds, however. It was an interesting walk!

Our walk took us to the banks of the river Corrib,

and then we saw the moon, and the bay.

From Arthur Colahan's song Galway Bay:
If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You will go and see the moon rise over Claddagh
Or see the sun go down at Galway Bay.
And yes, we saw, and I understand.

We walked a good way along the shore. Theresa picked up a few more rocks to take home,

and we'd hoped to get to this lighthouse,

but it was too far for our tired legs, so we finally turning back and re-entering the craziness of Shop Street.

Seeking a restroom, we snuck into Tig Coili's Pub,

and darted downstairs. I don't usually take bathroom pictures, but check out this tile!

The bus took us back to the hotel before midnight and we were more than ready to settle in and get some sleep before our next adventure: The Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


JJM said...

Interesting combination of writers, that statue. Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde. There's an identical statue in Tartu, Estonia, in front of the Café Wilde. (Did some quick online research.) The two were contemporaries, but never met.--Mario R.

Granny Sue said...

Thanks, Mario--I didn't get a photo of the whole sculpture and didn't know who the other writer was. The name is still not familiar to me. There was quite a crowd from a tour bus around it, and I think we inadvertently bumped line to take our picture. Oops. They didn't seem to mind, thank goodness.

Rowan said...

I stayed on the other side of Galway Bay in a village called Ballyvaughan and only ever drove through Galway itself so it was interesting to see and read what the city is like.

storytellermary said...

Tandem telling with Oscar Wilde! Wedding, new friends, adventures and beauty . . . What a trip!

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