Galway Walk 2010

Galway Walk
10th July

Writes John Boland

For me, a childhood trip to Galway always conjours up memories of Salthill and that stretch between the Hangar and Blackrock.

Here we parked, unloaded cousins, aunts, assorted parents, baskets of food, flasks of hot tea, large Mi-Wadi bottles of diluted orange and sandwiches which were beginning to turn a Marakesh red due to the bleaching of the tomato and ham filling. For some unknown reason they always tasted of sand!

But there was magic in that sand-------- Galway magic.
Across the bay we could see the hills of
Clare, which for many years I thought was America, having heard that Boston was the next parish to Galway. We were never allowed to await the sun going down on Galway bay, always on the road home"before the
evening traffic"

The magic of Galway was awakened for 25+ members of Ballinasloe A.R.A. on Tues last as they undertook a guided walk to some of this famous city’s places of interest.Our guide, Fiona Brennan, a Londoner did not speak in “ a language that the stranger did not know” but was as Galway as anyone could wish.

Meeting in Eyre Square after an early morning train journey----thanks again, Charlie Haughey---Fiona began her 90 minute tour by filling us in on some of the history of the square. Markets,
jousting, fights, sieges, Padraig O Connaire, J.K.F., 14 tribes, folk lore, history, celebs and blackguards all had moments of notoriety here.

On Shop St., we join the bronze still figures of Samuel Beckett and his Estonian co-writer, who share a seat and gaze eternally at the models in Brown Thomas window. On to Lynches castle then with its four stories, fireplace from Menlo Castle and a fireman monkey saving a baby from fire.
At the old Pro-Cathedral, Fiona reminds us always to look up when in Galway if we wish to catch glimpses of the many fine examples of limestone masonry. At the revamped Augustinian Church, we can also observe Wolfe Tones window over Buttermilk Lane where he wrote much of his revolutionary ideas, and no doubt the odd letter to Mary Martin whom we shall meet later.
The Tabhdhearc was locked, so we walked on to the Spanish Arch---- once four arches but now reduced to 1.5.
The echoes of flamenco dances, clicking castanets, and dark complexions still haunt these open spaces around the Cladagh, between the tidal Corrib and the old Galway port. The famous ring fashioned by a Joyce for an Arab bride has given the place an international fame.

At Kirwin’s Castle and Lane we learn of “Humanity” Dick Martin,
founder of R.S.P.C.A.and his theatre loving wife, also friend of Wolfe Tone.

Here is a Church open all day,a shrine to the Connaught Rangers, Knight Templers, beautiful masonry and stainglass windows.Our final stop was at Lynch’s window, that symbol of over-zealous loyalty to law and order. A good day all told and not a sandy sandwich in sight! The group dispersed to eateries and hostelries, well and widely positioned in this great city.

On to the King’s Head pub next, where a pint will never taste the same again after we learned that the original owners were Cromwellion soldiers who executed a king and stabled their horses in St. Nicholas’ Cathedral!

Photographs Brendan Smith

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