Monday, 8 December 2014


I’m going out tonight. It’s time for my staff Christmas party, and seeing as I’m a one man band, that’ll be me, happy out and alone, on another of my organic Galway rambles.

When I say ‘organic’ I don’t mean I’m going on a righteous expedition to forage for wild sorrel.

No, I’m not going out to save the world. Tonight will be a celebration of a few things going well in my life, propelled by the fact that nearly half a year has gone by since I last took myself out.

Organic in this instance is nought more than a description of how the night will proceed. I’ve lived in the west of Ireland long enough to know that the best way to have a good itme is to let it happen to you. Galwegians don’t like making plans and are blessed by living in the perfect-sized city for bumping into people. So I’ll start off down at PJ McDonagh’s for fish and chips, then wander into the Quays front bar around 7 and from there, well, who knows?

Much as I love Neactain’s during the day, I find it a little too crammed in the evening. My tired old pins prefer to sit down in pubs, but I cannot resist a few runs through the wondrous old pub, in the Quay Street door, linger by the fire in the middle bar, chat to a few in the main bar and then slip out onto Cross Street to -
To where?

We shall see. My ramble will grow in its own organic way. There have been hundreds of rambles over the years, and as time passes the pubs that I aim for have changed.

Well, that’s not entirely true. 20 years ago I couldn't have given a damn about standing in pubs, so long evenings were spent hovering in the woody cosiness, the modern and ancient history of Neactains. It’s a special pub that stands the test of time and whether I’m inside or sitting outside watching Galway TV walking by, I’ll always love it.

However, as much as it’s the central social hub for so many people, it has never become my ‘local’. Although your ‘local’ sounds like it should be the nearest pub to your home, it’s really more about how a pub feels; whether it can be your home from home.

When I first landed in Galway I lived in Salthill, and O’Reilly’s Stroll Inn was right at the top of our road. Long afternoons were spend idly drinking and playing pool as we youthfully frittered away the days, while in the evening my housemate and I would make the slightly longer walk down to the Cottage Bar, ages before it was yuppified.

It was my first Galway local. There’d be a raging fire to warm my bones and steam the rain out of my clothes. Maybe Ruth and Bernie would play a few tunes, or we’d have a game of Gin Rummy with our pints. It was all fairly calm and civilised, and as I recall, the place never seemed to close. I left fairly late but was never anywhere near the last to go.

Then I was happily kidnapped by a bunch of local lads who introduced me to my second Galway local, an Tobar, which back then was crammed with characters, eccentrics and lost souls looking for kindred spirits.

I fitted right in, humbled by the way I’d been accepted by this inner sanctum of locals.Sitting at the bar long after 11 one night, The Body turned to me and asked“Are you going out tonight, Charlie?”

At first I had to blink and pinch myself, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. There I was, my arse long-ensconced on a barstool, pleasantly inebriated and certainly not in my living room, nor my bed.

“Er, I am out. This is out. “
“No!” retorted my friend. “I mean are you going OUT?", shouting the word as if I’d been unable to hear him the first time.

Ah. So the five hours we’d spent in the pub didn’t count. He meant am I going to one of the nightclubs in Salthill. You knew that all the time, because you're Irish, but to me it seemed  a bizarre question.

Later we’d wobble out of Tobar and ramble to Salthill. There’d be a stop in Taylor’s and another in the Blue Note, (once the Hibernian was gone) and then on to shake our 30something butts in vulgar fashion at Vaggies.

Years later, when I returned to Galway after life in Connemara and San Francisco, I lived in the Claddagh and Taylor's Bar became my third Galway local. 

Oh how I loved that place, sometimes because of and sometimes despite of the equally irascible and enjoyable antics of Seamus Mulligan. Front bar during the daytime, doing the Simplex while chatting to the lovely Una; middle bar in the evening with the hardcore drinkers and ne’er-do-wells, and occasional forays into the back bar where Dalooney and others skilfully rolled out jigs and reels for tourists and the odd loose-legged Guru.

The only rambling I did from Taylor's was to Padraig's down in the docks, for late night pints and scary games of pool with lads off boats from places where men had Popeye biceps.

After Taylor’s was sold and turned into a lap-dancing club I was bereft of a local, and to be honest, although I’m now recognised and feel welcome in many pubs, I have never found another. So where once my rambles were grounded, anchored from a central pub, they have been for years loose and free form affairs, during which I have neither any idea where I’m going nor who I’ll see.

That’s the way Galway likes it. Keep it simple, react as you go and let the city take you out for the night.

This evening might well end with a few luscious pints of Guinness, downstairs at the Crane with Dalooney, and then again it might not.

By god, I’m looking forward to it.

©Charlie Adley

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