I spend three days in Galway, home to traditional Irish music, a celebratory bohemian lifestyle, and an influx of immigrants. It is a walking city and I gladly explore it on foot. This is an ancient city with a rich and colorful history. Though I am interested in what has happened here I am more interested in what will. I love not having an agenda, an itinerary of points on a map to check off, after I have raced from one to the next. My wanderings are led by my inner compass, one that never fails me. Synchronicity and spontaneity are my foremost lovers, and can be counted on for uncommon timing and adventure.
Quay Street is cobblestone, and lined with every sort of Pub, boutique, bakery, and restaurant. Virtually any cuisine you could imagine is offered in this hamlet. Swans float serenely on Galway Bay, which reaches to the Atlantic. The Aran Islands are just off the coast and can be spotted on a clear day. I was blessed with three blue sky milagros. Thomas Dillon, is the original producer of the Claddagh ring, I visit the quaint little red and yellow corner building and buy my Adrienne another. I also find a tarnished silver Mary Medal that they promptly glisten and which I place securely around my neck. There she will stay.
Buskers play in the streets, and music can be heard from anywhere in the city. The Irish say “Cheers”, which in Gaelic is slainte, means, “health.” It is said as a toast, as a send off, and in good hearted expression. I love the relaxed intensity of the Irish I have met here. Intelligent, witty, and sharp, they embrace me. Their easy going nature and readiness to assist is as none other. I stay at the Skeff on Eyre Square, a recently renovated landmark that now has a very hip and modern interior. The adjacent pub lies in stark contrast, maintaining its Irish roots and integrity with a dark wood bar beautiful art and Guinness flowing. They didn’t have a room available, but then by some happenstance and a phone call later the man who had booked the room suddenly cancelled.
Galway’s nightlife is a Monday-Sunday phenomenon. Even during the week people are out until all hours. I am on Irish time. I find my Pub of choice through a recommendation from a local. Chee Kolee. As I have no Gaelic characters I write it phonetically. I went every night, the last of which I got a photo of myself with the owner. Friday evening, I met an interesting man, a Mr. Devi, who had willingly surrendered his reservation at the Skeff so that I might lodge there. Coincidence? I thanked him for his generosity, which of course he humbly dismissed. A man of sharp intelligence, intensity and wit. I found him altogether compelling. The alchemy between two people is a mysterious thing, no constellations of events, nor stubborn will of refusal can stop its course. I had no desire to refuse him. Still waters run deep and wide, and to the sea they flow. Mr. Devi was a celestial phenomenon and in a genre of his own. Our paths will yet cross.
People come from all over the world to play music here, traditional Irish folk music and on my last night three legends convened. I had by chance the best seat in the house to a standing room only bar. People here gladly mingle, personal space is absolutely irrelevant when you’re listening to the best of the best. I seem to always have a half pint of Guinness in hand for when the glass is empty someone has bought me another. In that single night my world was transformed, the maestros, masters of their craft played to my very soul. A complex multi layered tapestry of sound that inspired every cell in my body. I could not have had a better bittersweet send off. Galway I will miss.
While there I took a one-day tour of Connemara. A beautifully rugged and picturesque landscape lost in time. Old famine cottages, rippled land where potato crops once grew, lakes, that stretch as far as the eye can see. Anglo-Norman towers stand alone on pasture land. We get a brief, well-rehearsed history lessen of the area from a tour driver who dreams of doing anything else. The highlight of the trip is an Abbey that now fades into the earth, a relic from the 1300’s. It was raided and burned seven times throughout its age, each time rebuilt. The resiliency of the faithful never ceases to deepen my own resolve. We walk aside a lake where the thin veneer of ice is buckling, an eerie sound of fire and water colliding. Moss grows in green thickness over bark and roots, earth and stone. In the side of a hill Mary looks down from her grotto, all blue and white, merciful and unmoving. I get down on my knees in the soil of this hallowed place and I pray for peace in this world. Mary, the embodiment of the Great Goddess is everywhere. I encounter her in Galway at Saint Mary’s cathedral in all her stain glass glory looking royal in red. Here I bend on Catholic kneeling wood and confess my deep love for her.
Before saying goodbye to Mr. Devi, he well advised me to draw an arrow pointing left to keep me on the right side of the road. I admit it took a bit of adjusting but that was nothing compared to having to use the navigational system! Let’s just say that yesterday I enjoyed an hour or so off the beaten path on narrow Irish roads with my patient, clearly not Irish, woman saying “recalculating, recalculating.” I arrived in Dingle last night well past dark after taking the car ferry. Today I will drive the peninsula and then head for Kenmare. I love traveling alone as strange as that may sound. I can hear my own rhythm, be still as I choose, eat at my leisure or not. I have my own map that dissolves on a whim. I can wander freely… arrow left