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There is small cross street that runs alongside St Augustine's church. It's rather charming that next to a house of God stands a collection of buildings that stimulate the senses in quite different ways to that which might be obtained inside the eccesiastical confines. From Nave to navel gazeing, you might say. Aristotle might add that it swapping higher pleasures fot lower ones !
Lets's begin at one end with the pleasure of the coffee bean. The Cafe Luna serves one of the best cups of the stuff in Galway, and you can sit outside. Next comes (and I choose my words carefully) 'Utopia' with its array of dirty videos and dodgy cosumes. I won't comment on what particular lower pleasure is satisfied there. Then there is the Tulsi restaurant producing decent curry - my particular vice of choice. Finally the Galway head shop caters for those who like an extra little kick in the ciggarettes - if you get my drift. But this is not Amsterdam, so it is a case of selling everything but the vital ingredient.
Which side of the street is yours, eh ?
Written Oct 18, 2008
The murmur project is an oral storytelling project that has begun in a number of cities worldwide. The one in toronto, for example, seems to be quite successful.
The system works as follows - you find green 'speach bubble' sign attached to a lampost or similar structure in the town. This then gives you a freephone number that connects to a recording telling you about the place of significance and stories about it. Sounds a great idea, although if it is any good the local tourist guides won't be best pleased !
The website listed will show the sites, and also the stories that have been recorded. There are about 14 such post already up in Galway with more to follow.
Updated Sep 10, 2008
The King's head pub stands on the main street and dates from 1649. It is a great pub to visit with good music, food and beer.
For years I didn't realise the significance of the name and the date - but then I got wise !
In 1649 Oliver Cromwell was in power in England, and he needed the previous king, Charles 1st executed. The normal executioner refused, and the story goes that no Englishman could be found to do the deed. Eventually two soilders from Galway offered to do the job called Gunning and Dear. Gunning was selected. One of the last things that Charles 1st was reputed to have said was "How does my hair look ?", well it takes allsorts I suppose.
With the benefit of a mask, Gunning performed the beheading in Whitewall, London. His reward was to be given the land that the King's head stands on. Being a good Irishman, the first thing he did was build a pub !
Some features of the pub remain to this day.
An investigation was held on the restoration of the monarchy into who the executioner was. He was never caught although some in Galway claim that Gunning's business partner got him drunk one evening and Gunning admitted that his right arm was so strong because it was the one that cut of the King's head. His partner then blackmailed him over several years until he had all of the business to himself. They tell you the same story in the pub itself, except the names change. I'm convinced the above version has more historical evidence, but no-one really knows the full truth of the matter.
P.S He wasn't however stupid enough to call the pub the 'King's head' in 1649, the name is only about 100-150 years old.
Updated Apr 25, 2008
This is the name given to the area on the west bank of the Corrib's estuary, between it and the Bay beach.
Formerly a fishing community, now an open area.
You get great views across to the colourful old houses on the opposite bank, and back up towards the river and the city.
Also "home" to many swans - unusually tame!
Written Apr 8, 2008
Address: Claddagh Quay
This is the river which travels the short distance between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay, on the way passing through the city at great speed.
Its quite a sight, and I don't remember seeing such fast river water in a city centre (the Rhone in Geneva comes close).
You can walk along the riverside right through the city. Its a real feature.
Written Apr 8, 2008
Address: City center
This story is always told to vistors of Galway :
In 1493, James Lynch became the mayor of this fair city. He subsequently spent a year in spain staying with a merchant family, to build up his merchant business. At the end of the year, he returned the compliment by bringing back a young Spanish lad, Gomez, to Galway.
James puts up Gomez with his own son. His son is regarded as a bit of a playboy, with legions of women swooning at his feet. He thought that the presence of this good catholic boy would quiten his offspring down. And the name of this sex god ? - Walter.
James was also trying to arrange a marriage between Walter and Agnes of the Blake family. As these stories always go, she was the most beautiful woman in all of Galway.
A dance was arranged at the Blake family castle. This building still exists (next to Jury's inn) and runs as KC' Blakes Brasseries. Unfortunately nothing remains of the old interior.
To return to the dance. Agnes is standing in the middle in all her finery, and who should appear at the door ? Gomez looking radient. She is gob-smacked - it's love at first sight. Walter (as you can imagine) is not exactly impressed. He marches over to her and demands an explanation. They depart from each other, both angry and annoyed.
What happens next ? Find out in Part 2
Written Nov 1, 2007
Day 1 Saturday: Hauled luggage through Dublin airport and to rental car lot a county away. Driving on the left side of the road not as unnerving as driving on right side of car! And what better place to learn that than nd entering the M1 motorway between Dublin and Belfast? I soon learned that my Matchbox car could do 120 kilometers per hour.
I visited an ancient tomb from 3000 BC at Newgrange, then went west to the Hill of Slane, where St. Patrick had challenged the pagan Celtic king at the hill of Tara for spiritual control of Ireland. (Patrick prevailed as he used the much-prevalent shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to this pagan king and successfully converted he and his followers). The hill as it now stands has the ruins of a church and monastery. There was snow on the ground and it was pretty darn cold.
Next I drove to a little town called Trim. I circled the same city center blocks three times before I found the correct street on which to turn. The castle (and compound) of Trim are in relatively good shape for 12th century. Mel Gibson shot many scenes for his movie "Braveheart" here. I took a self-guided tour. It hailed on me…little Irish pellets of joy.
As I continued my way west toward Galway, I stopped in Athlone to view the castle. (At this point I had no idea every town and every back yard had a castle.) Athlone had more serpentine streets and I proceeded to get lost for an entire hour in the same six blocks! It took me a while to figure out where to park, and by the time I did the damn thing had closed. Spent another hour trying to figure out how to leave the city centre to get back on the national highway west.
When I pulled into Galway at 7:00 p.m. it was dark, I'd been lost for at least a short time in each of three cities, and I was hungry. My B&B host for the next two nights had to talk me in by phone. I checked in and walked to a fabulous little restaurant called Kashmir where I had the best Indian food I've ever eaten. My jammies felt very good after this 14-hour day.
Written May 11, 2007
Going to Inis Mor was one of the highlights of my trip...absolutely beautiful place. There are 3 islands, you'd need 2 nights to see them all but you can certainly do a day from Galway to Inis Mor. You can either drive to the ferry dock or take coach down which is only 6 or 7 euros, it takes approximately 45mins or so. The ferry costs about 16 euros and is about 20mins or so. I'd advise taking something for motion sickness if you have a tendancy to get sick.
I'd also recommend hiring a bike for the day for 10 euros. When the ferry comes in there's men standing there giving pamphlets with a map and telling you there's bikes on the right. I'd actually go left and on the right hand-side the first shop has a newer and what seems to be more comfortable selection of bikes...not sure if the price is the same.
Written Apr 18, 2006
Collegiate Church is one of the oldest parish churches in Ireland. It has been a place of worship since the 14th Century. In common with many mediaeval ports, Galway dedicated its church to the patron saint of sailors. According to recent research, Columbus visited St. Nicholas' in 1477.
Updated Mar 27, 2006
Address: High Street, Galway, Ireland
Phone: +353 91 565442
The Saturday market offers a wonderful selection of natural foods and novel and traditional goods and gift ideas which are excellent value. It is no wonder that locals and visitors throng the market all day long every Saturday, rain, hail or shine.
Located in the laneway between Shop Street and Market Street, (past Easons on Shop Street), as you walk between the stalls every one of your senses will be arrested by the cornocopia of smells, tastes, sounds and vision and lively atmosphere created by the interaction betwen the stall holders and browsers alike.
Written Dec 14, 2005
Address: Between Shop Street and Market street.
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