The city of Music they called it, and they were right. Lively is one word I can use to describe Galway, but of course there are many more words to portray its character. What about this city is so Irish? I asked myself this question the moment I arrived in the city.
Every few meters or so there is a band or solo performer singing and making music. It doesn’t matter what age you are or where you come from. If you can hold a guitar or other musical instrument and you know of few songs then the streets of Galway welcome you to show your talent. I will never forget the moment I saw a boy singing. He looks skinny, not over 15 years old, holding a guitar bigger than him, singing ‘Wonder wall’ by Oasis. He started off shy but when a crowd grew around him, his voice became stronger. He played passionately while trying to show a bit of his dance moves. The audience started to sing along and throwing money in his hat. It felt good to be a part of this crowd, laughing and cheering him on. Seeing a boy that could have been one of my students, working so hard to earn a bit of money, changed my perception of the next generation. Many people can understand my primary thought that growing older also means becoming more realistic or rather pessimistic than creative and positive. At a certain stage in life we start to talk about the good old times and how the younger generation are spoiled. We do this without knowing what it’s like to grow up in this era. Children have it hard these days, but sadly we don’t always see it. That young man showed me that there is always more to see. Using all our senses will lead us to adventurous situations. All we need to do is stop and follow to the music from time to time.
After the boy had ended his show, I noticed the beautiful antique looking shops. Most jewellery shops had a special trait of making claddagh rings. These rings are originally an Irish wedding ring. It has the shape of two hands that embrace a heart with a crown on it. The symbols are for love, friendship and loyalty. Three elements I have seen a lot in Ireland through the way people act and bestow their love. It felt unreal to be only one hour and a half away from the Netherlands and feel as if I’m on the other side of the world. At least the world I knew.
Galway is famous for its sea resources. You see their love for fish at the many fish markets that sell fish as fresh and local as can be. The legends go back thousands of years ago to a time when the fishermen believed whole heartedly in mermaids. They saw them as beautiful women that saved them from devious storms that Ireland usually had. Galway is also known for its church that has mermaids displayed on her beautiful stained glass windows. On the outside of the church you see 2 mermaids, a dragon, an ape and a magnificent lion. High at the roof edge are a series of stone gargoyles, some of them richly carved into horses heads.
Because of the mystical ambience to it, Galway felt like a city that the pirates in their golden years would have loved to visit. That nuance was still there during the night when the old lampposts started to lighten up the streets with a dim light. For a few moments I felt as if I went back in time to the rural Ireland and how glorious it must have been during the golden years. The bars and pubs were filled with people laughing and talking. Two Irish men were outside talking about Christopher Columbus and his dog. ‘Who was the first to touch American soil?’ one of them asked me. ‘I have no idea, Columbus?’ I answered. ‘No the dog that came from Galway, that why the Irish were the first to discover America’ he said laughing. I laughed along not realizing that the bus would leave me behind if I would stay and have a conversation with them.
Finally finding the bus I sat back and relaxed until I got back to Dublin. This would be my last journey before starting my semester at school.
How I survived the first weeks at Dublin City University can be read on the following blog of G’s McTravels.