Monday, 5 May 2014


“Your itinerary is all sorted out!”

Across the room, sitting on my mother’s sofa, my brother flinched.

“Oh no please don’t-”
“No no don’t be silly. I was joking and-”
“It’s just that we don’t want to-”
“I know. I know. Don’t worry.”

Sentences are rarely finished in the Jewish living rooms of north west London. My brother once synthesised our family dynamic perfectly by interjecting

“Stop talking while I’m interrupting.”

In the same way that Indigenous Australians breathe circularly to play their didjeridoos, we circularly speak to and listen to several people at once. To gentle C of E types such as my beloved Snapper, our cacophony seems at first overwhelming. However, once I explained that she’d remain forever silent, if waiting for a pause in conversation, she leaped in and never looked back.

I had been teasing my brother about his trip to Ireland. He and his wife like to take extended weekend breaks, rather than long chunks of holiday. They want to come and see us, visit our home, as well as enjoying the splendours of the West of Ireland together.

We’re very excited to see them, as due to ill health and living in what appears to Londoners a pretty inconvenient spot, we haven’t yet been able to show our home to any members of either family. So yes, you’ll be very welcome and beyond that, I hope you both have a wonderful holiday.

Not one bit of me wants to risk my bother’s ire by setting an agenda, but my love for this life and area of land on Ireland’s Atlantic coast demands to be shared. So don’t see this as an itinerary, brother. Just some suggestions; mere nebulous puffs of ideas that might anyway be shattered in sheets of savage sideways rain, or cloud that creeps to touch the ground, rendering nearby mountains invisible.

You’re arriving at your hotel in Salthill on Friday, so I’ll leave a copy of this for you at reception. Weather permitting, walk into town along the Prom, looking across Galway Bay to those limestone hills of Clare. I’m really glad you’re going there. You and I have already shared times in Connemara, so its good that you’ll both see West Clare for the first time together.

It is a magical place. When I first started wooing the Snapper we spent a lot of time getting lost in the Burren. The hills look huge, but these slopes are built on limestone terracing rather than the mountainous bog of their Connemara cousins. You can walk up them at a pleasant rambling pace, feel achievement at the top and enjoy views of the Arran Islands and Galway Bay, along with the undulating grandeur of the Burren itself.

At this time of year those hills might be crawling with botanists. Seeds of rare and beautiful plants are borne on the North Atlantic Drift. They lodge themselves in the millions of cracks and eaves in the limestone, erupting into life around now, to be recorded and observed by those who feel the need to write such information down.

‘Gentle’ is a word I use often when talking of West Clare. The slopes; the people; the smell of the air. I believe that to some extent local people reflect their landscapes. No doubt the folk of both Yorkshire and Connemara are hewn from granite, while the locals in Clare are  more open, as is the rock beneath them.

Follow the Prom down to South Park, and walk up Ireland’s shortest river, the Corrib. It might be tiny, but there are 46 kilometres of Lough Corrib (the lake we live near) powering it, so its roar rarely fails to impress.

As you look across the river to the city, stop for a while to admire the Galway Hookers moored in the Claddagh basin. My friends the Claddagh Boatmen have done a splendid job of resurrecting these historically and culturally vital boats. At sunset, a Galway Hooker’s rust sail set against the amber shades of the evening Burren is a wondrous sight.

You’re pretty familiar with Galway City by now, but remember not to come into town too early in the morning, as the narrow cobbled streets will be filled with trucks unloading. Even though the general pace of life has speeded up since I first moved here, Galway is still a relatively late starter. By 10:30 it’s splashing water on its face, getting ready to look good for you.

You could take a wander into the Galway City museum, just across the river from the Claddagh, and then head back through Spanish Arch into Quay Street. The Saturday market will be bustling by then, so turn left by Tigh Neactains, (the blue and yellow pub on the corner of Quay Street that you and I have been to before) and head towards Market Square.

Some love the market; others find it a thronging crush. To Londoners such as yourselves, it’ll probably feel fun: its characters, produce, baking smells and the sound of laughter always worth investigating.

After that, well, it’s up to you. You are free to roam, as they say in the brochures! I’ll bring you out here late Saturday afternoon, where you will I hope feel the calm and peace that I'm enjoying today.

On Sunday, as you drive to Lisdoonvarna, stop at the observation point lay-by half way up Corkscrew Hill, and on your explorations, take a visit to Lahinch, where a beautiful beach abuts a typical West Clare town.

Mind you, it’s May Bank Holiday, isn’t it! Ah well, however full the place may be, it’ll still seem relatively empty to you. Your home town houses almost twice the population of this entire country!

Tonight, depending on the weather, I’ll meet you either inside or outside Neactains around 6pm, where the Snapper will also join us. Whatever you do, thanks for coming to see us! Have a fun holiday and despite all the above suggestions, feel free to be free!

1000 words
©Charlie Adley

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