Wednesday 9 April 2014


..."those sweet streets of Galway."

I’ve just discovered that my life’s better than I thought it was! Armed with thumb tacks, Blu-Tak and knee straps, I’ve been stomping the streets of Galway, putting up posters for my Craft of Writing Course.

What’s that? You haven’t heard of it?
Okay, let’s get the commercial out of the way and rush back to the story.

The course starts on April 23rd, Wednesdays 7:30-9:00pm, for 8 weeks. €100/€90 concessions. I like small classes, so to guarantee your place, contact the Galway Arts Centre:
For more information, visit my Facebook page.

Now, let’s return to those streets, those sweet streets of Galway; those newsagents, pubs and cafés, libraries, shops and community centres. Walking into each wearing my most charming smile, I asked if I might put up a poster. Then I respectfully scanned those already on display, searching for something out of date.

Time after time, while I was looking for a viable spot, the person working there walked over, saying something like:

“I’ll just take this one here down, Charlie, because, well, it’s been there for months.”
Stepping backwards, I felt humbled and guiltless as they removed a poster.

“Now, Charlie, you can put yours there, now!”

I suppose it’d be reasonable to think that after 22 years in a place, I’d know a few people. After my first couple of years here I knew hordes, but ever since then I’ve been increasingly reclusive.

While the Snapper knows half the town and the other half know her, I sit at home, visit friends to drink tea and chat in their living rooms and twice or thrice a year, I wander out on wet Tuesday evenings, for one of my organic Galway publy rambles.

More than any place I know, Galway repays richly what you put into her, but having invested so little in recent years, I imagined I might be invisible.

So what a delight it was to discover that I had so many friends out there. In a pub on Dominick Street, where they hung no posters, I was told I could put mine in pride of place by the front door. In a restaurant on William Street, my poster was given prime position. In a café on Shop Street the manager offered to show them exclusively on the walls of the Ladies and Gents (oh so very apt!) and then, in a community resource centre, I bumped into a colleague from way back when I was a youth worker, who was insightful and helpful.

Everyone seemed genuinely pleased to see me and by the end of a heartwarming and successful day, my legs were worn out, I’d chatted more than I had in the previous three months combined, and discovered while out trying to make a living that I have a life: a really good life that I barely knew existed.

The experience has put as smile on my face the size of an orbital motorway.

‘Making a living’ might to others imply monetary gain, but here in the West of Ireland, in a community like Galway, that’s not the way it works. Sometimes you get paid, sometimes you don’t, but either way, the rewards are great. Here we know that there’s more to life than money. Equally, sadly, many of us also know how hard life can be when there is none, but still we help each other out.

One of my favourite unpaid things to do is read at what is in effect the end-of-Cuirt Literature Festival Party, an event that proudly runs under the banner ‘Far From Literature We Were Reared.’

Produced by Tuam’s revered songsmith and poet Seamus Ruttledge, hosted and directed by the exceedingly talented Galway writer Conor ‘Monty’ Montague, these shows in the Roisin Dubh are simply excellent nights out.

This year’s ‘Far From Literature’ is on Sunday, April 13th, from 8:00 ‘til late. Come along and enjoy the performances of Galway’s finest writers, poets, comedians and singers. Chaos and mayhem are the order of the day, splattered with laughter and for me, this year, a great big dollop of emotion.

I’ll be reading ‘Billy’, the story of a dear friend of mine who died in police custody during Thatcher’s reign of terror. His tale (hopefully!) reflects his personality, in that it’s both funny and tragic, and I’ll be delighted to honour his memory by sharing his story with you.
Although Bill died in terrible circumstances, I wrote the piece many years ago, in celebration of his life. My thinking was always that way inclined, which might partly explain why Ireland became my home. It's the only country I know in which it's culturally acceptable to enjoy a good funeral!

As somebody who has seen far too many friends die over the years, I know how wrong it is to waste our living days. Thankfully I’m able to resolve much of my grief through my scribbling, using words to wail and gnash, weep and complain how we were robbed of the beautiful Alana crushingly young; that my lovely Sonja and most beloved and beautiful friend Jon left us decades too early. I was fortunate to be able to write away my tears after the ridiculously premature deaths of Galway’s beloved Mark Logan, my wryly wonderful friend Malcolm and Billy himself, confirming yet again my belief that there is neither sense to life nor death. All we must do is make the most of living.

Evidently, I had been failing to do that, because it wasn’t until I stepped out of my daily existence in order to make a living that I discovered I still had a great Galway life!

Thanks to all of you for helping me with my posters. Hopefully, I’ll either see you down the Roisin on Sunday 13th for a great evening, or at the Arts Centre on the 23rd, arriving for my course.

Did I mention my course? Well, its....

©Charlie Adley

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