Galway on My Mind

I was juicing an orange this morning when a memory blast of Galway hit me.

I didn’t juice any oranges, that I remember, in Galway, or any part of Ireland. I wonder what part of my brain shot me through with a violently lovely blip of those two days a year ago in Ireland.

We travelled by car all over the southern half of the country. An American sort of way to see Ireland, we were in our last throes of panic to see whatever we could before we moved back to the States. It wasn’t quantity or quality, probably, but it wasn’t bad at all.

In Galway, we drove from our B&B to the town center, which was overfilled with young people. We disregarded at least two restaurants– even though we were starving — before settling on one that was narrow and tall with tables right up at the street level window and a tiny curved bar with wine bottled stacked to the ceiling behind it. One old man sat at the bar like he had grown out of the wood of the tree it was made from, talking to the bartender while looking out the window.

We got that table in the window. We got a Canadian waiter, who bonded with Colin. We got a fantastic dinner and watched the wild people spill in and out of the pub across the cobbled pedestrianized street. The waiter gave us a tip for where to see real live music and, in the darkness, we wandered out, across the river to the pub.

The musicians, crowded elbow to elbow in the room upstairs, weren’t part of a band, just people who’d known each other for a long time and played around each other. This was an Irish equivalent of a jam session and they were honoring Mickey Finn. Colin and I wedged ourselves into chair with a pint and listened.

It was a long three years in London, with the dreariness of the weather matching the unhappiness of the people, to get a warm crowded room of music in Galway. The Irish are not the British. They are not leprechauns or trolls, as legends have made them. In that upstairs room in Galway that night, I saw them (as I had throughout the trip) as people with their hearts upon their sleeves. People singing to relieve the heartache, to share the joy, to quiet the questions that don’t have any answers.

I don’t know why the image of walking in Galway leaped into my mind this morning, but for today I think I’ll do some singing, and wear my heart on my sleeve.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home. 

  2 comments for “Galway on My Mind

  1. cc
    March 21, 2008 at 7:25 am

    top post of March–thanks for sharing this

  2. shakenbsis
    May 10, 2008 at 9:20 am

    I cried out loud for a moment when i read this line…

    “but for today I think I’ll do some singing, and wear my heart on my sleeve”

    for today, I’ll give it a go…

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