In the City, Galway
A rather strange thing has happened near the Spanish arch in Galway. A very smart and well made plaque has appeared on a wall proclaiming the founding of the GDR - the Galway Democratic Republic. I strongly suspect that it is an art school stunt of some kind. The GDR seems to be absent from the internet or anywhere else. The 'prank' status is comfirmed by the tiny line at the bottom of the plaque that says it was erected with the co-oeration of the "Society for Historical Interpretation, Trusteeship and Education”. I will leave you work out what the acroymn reads.
Whatever the source, I hope the local council planning department have enough of a sense of humour to leave it in place.
I can't stand tile shops. I get dragged around them by the ear by my wife.
"Wouldn't that look nice in our bathroom ? " she says
"Hallie Berry in a bath of custard would look good in my bathroom"
"You have no chance".. etc, etc ad nauseum.
The Rocca tile shop on the Tuam Road as you exit Galway does however have one redeeming feature : they have bought a fine statue that stands in the showroom of 'a Tiler'.
At the top of Eyre square, by the taxi rank stands a statue to Liam Mellows. As one of the leaders of the 1916 uprising, he is most clearly remembered for leading an abortive attempt on the Royal Irish Constabulary buildings in Oranmore. He was imprisoned by the English at one point, but escaped from Reading Jail to lead the IRA's western division.
He met his end by execution. This was ordered by the Irish Free state, a semi-independent body that presided over Ireland and a civil war before full independence came in 1923.
Apart from the historical associations, the site also seems to be the site of the towns gallows. It is marked as such on the famous galway may of 1651. during recent excavations three bodies were found by the staatue. They seems quite intact, apart from the fact they had no heads. Theses were later found a few meters to the north of the statue. Their heads were presumbly severed after being hanged on the gallows, and then roughly buried.
So I was lost in downtown Galway one day and came across a dim, skinny alleyway. "Gee," I thought brightly, "I think it's a good idea to wander down this alleyway by myself!"
Well, it was. In the alley was the entrance to Paul Doyle's workshop. He is a maker and restorer of all sorts of stringed instruments - harps, guitars, violins, hurdy gurdys, etc. The bottom level was a whole bunch of machineary and wood but the top level had tons of instruments in various states of construction or repair. Paul also has some photo books of past jobs he's done.
He's a very nice guy and welcomes visitors to his shop. There were a lot of mailing lists to get on and that sort of thing, but since I don't play strings I declined. Worth a look if you're interested in woodworking or instrument construction, though!
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The picture shows the state of the disused railway to Tuam only a few miles from Galway.
There is a big campaign on at the moment to re-open the line. Even better - it might be possible to use a steam train now and again, what an arrival in Galway that would make !
Galway Railway station itself is fairly unremarkable although the following bits & pieces maybe of interest :
a) The waiting room has old posters of the Galway Arts festival
b) The far wall, against where the trains arrive has a collection of modern art hanging on it. I especially like the giant photograph of an Aborigine.
c) The booking office has old photographs of Galway from around 1900
d) The view out from the end of the platform to Galway Bay is worth investigating if you are into your photography.
P.S It's also useful for catching trains to / from Dublin.
Some people in Galway will tell you that Christopher Columbus visited Galway in 1492. He had a last meal in a restaurant in the town (still there !), prayed for good fortune in the church and then went out and discovered the Americas.
Utter and complete rubbish. He did however visit Galway in 1477, from where he discovered Iceland (which must have been news to Bjorks ancestors) and he did worship in the church on that occasion.
Perhaps this trip gave his the confidence to edge further afield.
A monument (modern art effort, supposedly a dove) stands to him near the bridge by the Spanish Arch. It was erected in 1992.
Forthill Cemetary is worth a visit for two main reasons.
Firstly it commands good views over the port and Galway Bay, and
Secondly, the historical background is facinating. The full story can be found at the website listed below, but in a nutshell, about 300 sailors from the scuttled Spanish Amarda are buried here. They were caught by the British after their ship ran aground and then brutally tortured and executed.
The Lord deputy from Dublin also had a lust for'Spanish Gold' and it is possible the carried some, as future pay for the sailors - but he never got his dirty little hands on it.
The Irish took pity on their souls, and arranged to have them properly buried in this Augustinian graveyard.
It's also said that you can't be a true Galwegian unless you have an ancestor buried on Fort Hill.
You can find the gate to the place by heading to the port area andthen following the road around towards the railway bridge. The Entrance gate is on your left.
In the lobby of the hotel, the Oyster Ball had just gotten done in the main ball room and the place was swarming with Black Ties and ball gowns. The piano player was playing Elton John with great gusto.
I rode the elevator up to Palie?s room and woke her ***ass up belting out that I had just loved and lost a very hot man, but never mind that, lets get our best dress on and go to the Ball! And with in, miraculously, 10 minutes we were downstairs, drinking Harvey Wall Bangers and chatting with a very nice Anthony Hopkins look-alike millionaire from Dublin.
At about 4:00am, I was singing Willie Neilson songs to a rather large group of men, and trying to remember what was in a Harvey Wall Banger. As I said good night and parted ways, one bold man said: ?Aren?t you coming to my room?? To this I replied: ?You wouldn?t know what to do with me if I did.? This was the truth as I know it.
Historic area of Galway is a must for any visitor to Galway especially the nearby Spanish Parade house where the quirky mix of eccentric residents welcome all visitors with a traditional Irish welcome - the cead mile failte!
Umm... We went to a pub over the Wolfe Tone brigde, I guess it was Monroe´s. There was a group dancers, 4 girls and a young boy, who were going to a world championship competition to Scotland. Anyway, our hotel was in the Eyre Square but as we had left our map in the hotel, trying to get back from the Claddagh was a bit difficult. And it was far over midnight when we started our way home. Somehow we got lost and then we just kept on walking till we realized that we were going to a highway... Yeah, right, we didn´t even drink that much, but we just got lost. We had no idea where we were and there were no people around... Kinda freaky. Anyway, we prayed to Saint Patrick to get us to the hotel somehow and safe. Then, out of nothing suddenly came a free cab. You can´t even imagine how happy we were. I think that St. Patrick heard us and helped us out. Believe it or not.
Everything is so esthetic here, that even walking through the streets on the outskirts is worth.. You will enjoy the harmony of life in Ireland