Catching Up

No blog post yesterday, because I didn’t make it back to the guesthouse until midnight, and that was too late for me to do anything coherent. So, today you get a double-dose of my Irish adventures.

Yesterday started with a bus tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.I’ve been on this tour before, but I always enjoy it. And, of course, it was Penny’s first time, so that was cool.

First stop of the day was Dunguaire Castle, which is said to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. Here’s my contribution:

Tide is out in this picture. When it’s in, the water comes almost up to the base of the3 walls.

Next was the Poulnabourne Dolmen, a prehistoric tomb where they found twenty-two bodies of men, women, and children.

Lunch stop was at McGann’s in Doolin. I stayed here for almost a week about ten years ago. They don’t rent out rooms anymore, but the place is still friendly and welcoming with great food.

The main stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Again, I’ve been here several times, and climb up and down to the various viewing spots has gotten rough on my arthritic joints, so I didn’t wander all that far. Got a nice picture of the sculpture at the front of the visitor centre, which is the same as last time, but a little more weathered.

Driving down, there was some worry that the fog would be too thick to give us a good view of the cliffs. It cleared up enough that we were able to get a good look at them, but lingered enough to make things look weird and otherworldly. This is a view down the cliffs to Hag’s Head, at the far end.

At the other end of the cliffs is O’Brian’s Tower, which gives some of the best views of the cliffs, especially from the top. It was more of a climb than I felt up to, but I told Penny to make sure she went for a look.

Last stop on the way home was a bit of shoreline with the rocky terrain that the Burren is known for.

Gary, our tour driver, gave us some recommendations for places to check out for music and food back in the city, and we ran into a lady at one of the places that Penny had met a couple of nights previously. We all went to dinner, then back to Taafe’s, one of the music pubs Gary had recommended. There, a young German couple named Matthias and Kristina wer kind enough to let us share their table, right next to where the musicians would be setting up’

These folks – whose names I never got – were amazing. They started out with a fair amount of traditional Irish stuff, took requests, and ended the evening playing c9vers of Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, The Cranberries, Lee Earle, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and others I didn’t recognize. Things got rowdy and dancey, and my voice got sore from singing.

And that’s why there was no blog post yesterday.

This morning, we got a little bit of a later start. We didn’t have a tour to go on, and planned to spend the day just walking around Galway and seeing stuff.

We started with the train station, getting tickets for our trip tomorrow to Killarney, and spent an inordinate time looking around for someplace to get out laundry done. We had lunch at a really great chip restaurant called Prátaí, which is Irish for Potatoes. We went and saw the Red Earl’s Court, an archaeological excavation in the city centre, and then the Spanish Arch.

The area to the right of the arch is the oldest preserved section of the city walls.

Just past the arch is the Galway Museum. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff in it. Like this Galway Hooker hanging in the gallery.

After this, we sat for a bit in The King’s Head, resting and having a drink, then walked along the Corrib river walk to the Galway Cathedral. I’d visited here on my last trip to Galway, but there was a confirmation service going on, so I didn’t want to intrude by taking pictures.

This time, no service, so I took some pictures.

The cathedral. If you look closely, you can just see a wild Penny in the left foreground.

So, the cathedral is stunning and beautiful. It’s a more modern design than most other cathedrals, having been opened in 1965.

Then there was the walk back, and dinner, and then back to the guesthouse, and here we are now.

Tomorrow, we catch the train to Killarney.

Three Churches and a Museum

This was my last day in Galway. Tomorrow, I’m off to Dublin for my final week of vacation. So, today I wanted to get to the last few places I’d been putting off.

My first stop was across the street at the Galway City Museum. It being a Saturday morning, it was pretty crowded, and I only managed a couple of pictures that actually turned out.

This is a statue of Pádraic Ó Conaire, a poet of Galway from the early 20th century. It used to sit in Eyre Square, but it was subject to repeated vandalism, culminating in a decapitation, so it was moved to the museum.

There were a number of the early sketches for the statue on display, and they looked nothing like the finished statue. Pádraic was on a pedestal, in an impressively serious pose, but apparently they finally settled on something that depicted more of what people remembered of him around Galway –  sitting awkwardly on a stone wall, his bow tie very loosely knotted, his hat on back to front, looking adorably goofy.

I love this statue, and I love the evolution that brought it to the final result. I don’t know what was up with the vandalism and decapitation, though.

There was a replica of a Galway Hooker1 that had been built for the museum, and hung from the ceiling fully rigged. There was a lot of stuff about the early days of Galway, and about the 1916 Uprising, and the War for Independence.  There was also a fair bit of science stuff about the sea.

This was my favourite display. It was a bunch of Styrofoam heads and cups. The heads started at the size of the white one, then kids coloured them, and they were lowered into the sea, and compressed by the pressure of the depth. There was even a little video showing it happen.

After the museum, I walked along the river down to the Galway Cathedral.

The Galway Cathedral is actually The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, but that’s too long to say every time. I stuck my head inside, and it was absolutely gorgeous. But there were First Communion services going on, so I didn’t linger to take pictures. You can see some pictures of the interior here.

I walked back to St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, at that point. St. Nicholas is the oldest still-standing building in Galway. I didn’t get a picture of the outside, because it was surrounded by the street market that was going on with the Galway Early Music Festival2.

Outside the door of St. Nicholas, there were a couple of ladies playing harp and fiddle. They were doing Si Bheag Si Mhor, and it was beautiful.

This is the inside of St. Nicholas. They’re setting up for the concert tonight. I had a nice chat with a fellow named Andrew, who I am pretty sure was the vicar, and a nice look around. I love those columns.

The stained glass window of St. Nicholas.

At the back of one of the church wings is this screen with icon-like paintings that I thought were very lovely.

So, looking around the street market, I found out that there was a concert this afternoon at the Chapel of the Poor Clares – one of the Early Music Festival’s presentations of medieval ballads and madrigals. I made my way down to Nun’s Island, where the Poor Clares have their abbey, and managed to get a ticket, though it was pretty packed. A wonderful concert, by Simone Sorini Syrenarum.

Now, I’m back at the flat, finishing up this post and getting ready to leave tomorrow morning. I’m glad I took the time here in Galway to relax, and I think I’m going to miss the city. But I’m really looking forward to Dublin, too.

  1. That’s a sailing boat, FYI. []
  2. Which was the first I had heard of it! []

Lazy Galway Friday

Not much to report today. After being on the move for tours the past three days, I was somewhat lazy today. I didn’t leave the flat until almost noon, walked down to Eyre Square to catch the sightseeing bus, and took the hour-long ride around the city.

This is a view of the Galway Cathedral, down along the Corrib River. I thought we would be stopping there, and I could go see inside, but I was wrong. Have to walk down there tomorrow.

This is the Salthill Promenade, as featured in the ubiquitous Steve Earle song Galway Girl. It’s a nice, long walk along the shore of Galway Bay.

After the tour, I went walking along Shop Street to get a couple pictures that I hadn’t managed on my walking tour.

This is a cool example the kind of re-use and recycling of architecture. The owner of this building, when renovating the windows, damaged some of the plastered-over walls, and found some pieces of medieval architecture and decoration. It has a decidedly Spanish/Andalusian feel, as Galway did a lot of trade with Spain.

Okay. Remember, I said back here that I had a story about the weird little carving on Lynch’s Castle? Here’s a better picture of it. The story is that a previous house owned by the Lynch family caught fire, and a child was saved by a pet monkey, so they put this carving on the new house they built. One clever critic said the artist must have never seen a real monkey before. The local folk maintain that he must never have seen a child, either.

What else did I do today? I found that, one block over from me, there’s a movie theatre, and I went to see Solo: A Star Wars Story. I got to meet my AirBnB landlady1 and found her to be a very charming lady. I got to dodge a number of folks campaigning for either side of the referendum happening today. And I got reminded that this is a university town, so if I want to get into a popular pub on a Friday night to have dinner and listen to music, I better get there early.

Tomorrow is my last day in Galway. I’ve got to get to the cathedral, to St. Nicholas’s church, and the museum. I can try again tomorrow for a seat at a good music pub.

  1. She’d been in London for her nephew’s wedding when I arrived, so I had only met her husband. []