Galway Girls (the walk)

Continuing on from Monday’s post

When Grace and I were younger, we were very intolerant of each other. In 2010, she went to Australia for a year, I visited her for Christmas and our tolerance levels improved dramatically. Nowadays, we still have our disagreements, but we can laugh at the ridiculousness of our arguments. It is probably more of a reflection of Grace’s development than my own. Previously, she would never have dreamt of calling me a dictator or would have just said “Shut up” if I told her to cover her mouth when she coughed. “Maybe you should cover your mouth when you talk to people” was infinity better.

She is a complicated but lovely person and if I have two tips for spending time with her, they are:

  • If deprived of food, she will get hangry. And no, a banana will not do.


  • She likes to walk fast without interruption. There will be no stopping to read signs. Especially if she is hungry (see previous point).


When she took this photo on Nimmo’s Pier in Galway, she was still full from breakfast and had a takeaway coffee in hand, so she was able to humour our need to read every sign that we passed. In addition to numerous information points, she also had to factor in the poetry plaques that have been installed along the way. These are quite lovely and designed to highlight the relationship between Galway and its waterways, not just in economic or employment terms, but to acknowledge the impact on its natural and cultural heritage. The poem we were reading above (on an inexplicably high pedestal) was by Louis MacNeice and part of his Autumn Journal series.

The words aren’t quite clear in the photo, so here you go:

O the crossbones of Galway
The hollow grey houses,
The rubbish and sewage,
The grass-grown pier,
And the dredger grumbling
All night in the harbour:
The war came down on us here.

Salmon in the Corrib
Gently swaying
And the water combed out
Over the weir
And a hundred swans
Dreaming on the harbour:
The war came down on us here.

The night was gay
with the moon’s music
But Mars was angry
On the hills of Clare
And September dawned
Upon Willows and ruins
The war came down upon us here.

We took the scenic route towards Salthill. It was so beautiful, with the sun shining on one side, snow on the Clare hills in the distance and threatening clouds loomed over the city. Forget all the seasons in one day, we had all the seasons at once.

Unfortunately we didn’t get all the way to Salthill, because that dark cloud got very up close and personal and we hadn’t eaten in a few hours. Luckily, my travel partners are more than happy to stand in front of various sights on command, brightening up Shop Street and the Spanish Arch with a flash of a smile.

Galway is bidding to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020, with the final decision due in July this year. The culture is already in place, there is no doubt about it. If awarded, the city would have four years to do a wonderful job. Watch this space!


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