Archive for Ireland

04 Nov 2014

Green, Grey, Gorgeous, Gabbling, Good-Times, Guinness … Gutter — Galway

Comments Off on Green, Grey, Gorgeous, Gabbling, Good-Times, Guinness … Gutter — Galway Galway, Ireland

Nothing like a lick of paint to add some colour on a grey ol' day

Brave bathers jump from here all year around - absolutely mad

Like I said, absolutely bonkers


During the days we go out driving. First to the Connemara district where we were struck by the sheer beauty of the landscape. On another day we drive out to the Cliffs of Moher — stunning. Late in the afternoons we return to Galway.

Even on a cold day (really … they are all cold days) the buskers are out, fiddling, singing, dancing and playing guitar, up to their usual antics. In Galway, busking is the norm. The sky may be mostly grey, however the streets with their colourful shopfronts and myriad bars are awash with people. On the streets people’s faces are stony, chiseled hard from the cold. Inside, it is a different story as we remove layer upon layer and push our way through the bowels of yet another bar. Their are smiles and laughter, jaws loosened by Guinness, Galway Hooker, Smithwicks or anything else you’d care to drink, even, heaven forbid, wine.

Galway is a funny place. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. There was an Aussie and Irishman and an Alpaca … well two Italians, a Spaniard, an Aussie and an Alpaca actually, but never mind!

We settle down for the night. It is simply another night in Galway. It is only ever minutes before someone comes over for a chat. The Irish like to chat, to tell a story. They treat you like an old friend, mentioning people you don’t know as if you have known them all your life. Half of them are bonkers; the other half I am not so sure about.

It can be raining and icy outside and someone will say, “Nice day today.”

As the night progresses the musicians arrive — the craic begins. At first a guitarist, then a fiddler and later a flautist. Within the hour, sitting amongst us are several Uilleann (elbow) pipers, four flautists and a banjo player. There is no stage. They sit alongside the patrons on low stools, matching us drink for drink, merrily playing away. The music that emanates is warm and cheery and familiar and not overly loud — traditional Irish tunes. We tap along and sip our beers.

It is the same in bars all over Galway.

As the night progresses, more people come over for a chat. I was right, they are all bonkers!

One guy is trying to chat up our friend Barbara. He is Irish – Liam. They talk for several minutes. Barbara has a thick distinctive Spanish accent and speaks in slow, not quite perfect English. Marie-Laura, Paul and I lean in closer to listen. After about five minutes, we have to pull ourselves from the floor where we have fallen in fits of laughter. In a dead serious tone he has asked her if she is Irish. Over the coming days we bump into him three more times.

Later, another inebriated guy comes over to chat to Barbara. He tells her she is beautiful, coughs heavily into his hand, reaches to shake her hand and then instead leans down to kiss it. Most of his teeth are missing and his words emerge as a sort of Guinness-infused whistle.

After he has gone, another guy staggers over.

“Don’t worry about him,” he says. “He is a prick when he is drunk.” He pauses then adds. “You don’t want to see him when he is sober. When he is sober he is an absolute c**t.”

When it is all said and done, we put on our scarves and jackets and head out onto the streets. It is graduation time and the streets are full of students. The boys are sharply dressed in waistcoats or suits and the girls are dressed in not much at all. They stagger and sway and prop each other up.

One student is standing proud (more leaning ever lower against a bar window) tugging on his elastic braces and shouting to two girls who have emerged from a bar on the opposite side of the road. They turn and look at him and he shouts again and again. “Engineer … engineer … engineer ...” with drunken determination until they have turned the corner and are out of sight.

On the river walk home, we pass all the familiar round yellow lifesavers hanging on poles every 50 metres or so. They are there for a reason, to throw to your drunken mate who has had a skinful, slipped and fallen in. No laughing matter! It happens all the time.

We step around the staggerers, the pools of vomit, the lone busker singing out of tune. A passerby looks into the busker’s guitar case scattered with coins and says loudly, “You have a lot of money in there. Can I have some?”

The busker continues playing but stops singing briefly and nonchalantly says, “Not tonight. It’s rent day tomorrow,” and returns to his discordant strain.

We make our way home. And the next night we do it all again.

Pass us a lifesaver will you buddy?


In the bars everyone makes an ass of themselves

Road narrows


29 Oct 2014

Life’s A Beach

2 Comments Galway, Ireland, Mallorca, Spain

I am siting in a cold kitchen in Galway, Ireland, drinking a mug of hot tea with lemon, warming myself against the sides of the mug and trying to will some feeling back into my feet. The room is silent except for the chatter of Paul’s teeth. I look outside. The sky is a singular shade of dark grey. I am thinking about writing about Galway. But I can’t, not yet. Not with my thoughts flicking back to those last few days in Mallorca — memories of water and sun, sun with heat, and water to swim in, not squelch through.

I sigh and shake my head and follow Paul out the door for another pint of Guinness!