shhushhh....... we're sleeping......
Galway City is a grumpy beast early in the morning. Stuffed full of pork products from their B&B breakfasts, groups of Germans and Americans squeeze between crammed rows of growling delivery trucks, chuck-chuck-chucking out diesel fumes, fouling the damp misty morning air.
Bewildered by the ugliness of the scene, the tourists wander around, wondering what all the fuss is about.
“I am sinking how everybody said Galway was great, but this is just, how you say? Gross?”
Be patient. Galway City doesn’t burn the candle at both ends. If you want to drink eat and dance until dawn then you have to give the city time to refuel, rest, have a shower or four and flush its innards out.
You wondered what that smell was? Well this city’s the recipient of every type of bodily function, and it has to relieve itself too. Just like its inhabitants at this time of year, Galway’s a bit stinky and doesn’t like to get up in the morning.
You wouldn’t turn up on your friend’s doorstep first thing after a big night out expecting them to be full of life and smiles and energy, so take a walk to Black Rock, kick the wall, marvel at the astonishing view of the Burren and by the time you get back to town the place’ll be spick and span, shutters rising and door’s opening, everyone getting ready for action.
With its year’s peak so close we should spare a thought for Galway City, its energy almost spent. Our city absorbs what we feel in our knees, livers and wallets, but it needs to take one more deep breath, another round of greeting smiles and split shifts for the Bank Holiday Weekend and it’ll ease just slightly. Then it’ll be schools, Halloween and … and we won’t go there.
Well done Galway! Your bars have filled with song, your theatres and tents brimming with music and drama. Your cinemas were home to packed houses watching world class movies during a captivating Film Fleadh.
Your walls have been hung with art, your floors with installations. Your streets have been filled with the cacophonous delights of a busker every five yards, while your pavements have been smoothed and squashed under the weight and purpose of hundreds upon thousands of human feet, flying bodies of acrobats, jugglers, actors, poets, tightrope walkers, Nora, Pat, giant insects, human pizza and a million rats.
Bottles of Buckfast have been hurled into skips, only to smash upon landing against bottles of bubbly. You’ve hosted Samuel Beckett, The Undertones and Dermot Weld, along the way becoming the European Capital of Culture 2020.
So no, Galway doesn’t do mornings very well.
This time last week I had to drop the car in early for service, so at 9:30 am I found myself slumped in a chair outside a closed Neachtain’s. With a posture that suggested I was being pushed back into the cane chair by a great and powerful force, I let myself sit; stare; soak up the pain and exhaustion of a Galway City morning.
Cities don’t suffer hangovers, but if they did, Galway would have the greatest hangover in the world. Mind you, through the miasma of that self-inflicted misery, there’s laughter to be had and heard.
As I stumble and drift around town in these early morning hours, I find myself laughing with just about everyone I meet.
First I have a giggle with Paddy Mechanic, who seemingly only recently discovered that lawnmower blades and human fingers are a bad combination. Then I bump into the lovely Donncha, a man of organic lettuce and natural warmth. These days we seem only to see each other at the height of the festival season, yet he’s a fine human being to meet this morning, and a link to Galway past.
Well, at least one of my Galway pasts!
In the offices of this Noble Rag I enjoy the company of Frank upstairs and share a giggle with Carmel on the ground floor, leaving the building with a smile stretched upon my lips. I’ve only walked from Bridge Street to Market Street, yet already I’ve had three happy encounters.
Later in the afternoon lies the prospect of tea and buns with Dalooney, a weekly man to man gathering where we talk of fruit flies and feather boas, wrapping the occasional real life subject with humour before introducing it into the excellent conversation, so I dive into Petite Delice for cakes. Still and always will go to Griffins for my bread, but French patisserie? Ooh là là!
Then it’s off to Pura Vida to relax, drink, eat and stare out of the window at the flow of people over and water under Wolfe Tone Bridge.
The place is packed with 20something young Americans. Think less David Bowie, more:
“Like ahh she said like ahh, so I said like ahh, and then she said like err, so I said like err.”
Good to know that in our social media age, the art of conversation is not dead; not quite.
Two hours later I’m back with the car, but now the city’s arteries are as clogged as carotids after thousands of cream cakes.
In the labyrinthine helter-skelter of Jury's car park amateur season has broken out: cars reversing, lost and stuck.
It’s enough to try the patience of your scribbler, so a few minutes later I‘m delighted to find myself ensconced in my Friday office, outside Neachtain’s, where I can watch the Galway Shuffle along Cross Street, High Street and Quay Street.
Personally though I like to look up to the medieval rooftops opposite, to the scuttling clouds and the seagull’s nest crammed beside that chimney stack.
© Charlie Adley