Sunday, 16 September 2018


The Swiss couple next to me at PJ McDonagh’s are getting stuck into plates of oysters. Their tweenie son with a cheeky grin is watching me out of the corner of his eye, fascinated by the way I’m creating a lacy lattice of ketchup over my chips.

Then he lifts the squeezy bottle and tries to do the same, but in his eagerness lashes a scarlet splash over half the table.

In a flash both his parents are onto him, but I laugh out loud and point to my spudular artwork.

“He was only trying to learn about local culture!”

We all laugh.
He flashes me a grateful toothy grin.

How could you feel anything but love while eating this freshest of fish? Steamed inside a crispy batter, forkfuls of snow white flakes of cod, as fine as any anywhere in the world.

The chips are superb too, with a lingering potato hit up the schnoz as you exhale, which I do as I head up the river walkway to O’Brien’s Bridge.

I’m a man on a mission.

Well, no. I’m a scribbler on a long-overdue ramble, hoping to arrive at Taylor’s Bar early enough to find a barstool.

The only time I’ve been in there since it reopened was during the Arts Festival, and much as I enjoyed the nostalgia hit of walking back into my old pub, the place was absolutely jammered.

I knew I needed to come back after the madness and just be there; see how it felt.

At night I had no particular spot in the old Taylor’s. I’d linger in the back bar, watching musicians mingled with hosteleros, and then chat to the hardcore regs in the middle bar, their arse groove well established on their own barstools.

Inevitably I’d end up in the front bar, where Arty types with a capital ‘A’ drifting down from Tigh Neachtain engaged in drunken conversation and serious flirtation with self-described entrepreneurs from Shantalla and eccentric gardeners from the Claddagh.

Afternoons were a different matter. After work I’d take the barstool right at the end of the front window, cosily trapped by wall and bar.

Supping a mug of coffee I’d chat to ever-smiling Una, do the crossie and gently enjoy the space and place.

Bloomin’ lovely! 

That very barstool is vacant, waiting for my voluptuous arse.

I settle in and feel happy.

The wonderful woodwork retains a sense of integrity, but of course Taylor’s isn't the same. There are TV screens, yet it doesn’t matter. I’m not looking for a replication of my life 20 years ago, just a pub where I might feel at home.

Before a sip of whiskey slips my lips, I’m talking to old friends. Like so many they are being turfed out of their home by their landlord and face the stark truth that they can no longer afford to live in the city they love.

A vile cocktail of vulture capital gentrification, Airbnb rapacity and pure dirty greed threatens to turn Galway City into the vapid homogeny to which so many cities around the world have been reduced.

The unique tragedy for our county town is that many of the people being evicted are those who make this city different from all the others.

Artists, musicians, actors and writers all have to be risk takers. We have to be willing to jump off the gravy train and hope for the best, so often we’re the most financially vulnerable.

Unregulated and out of control, rents in Galway are destroying what made this place great.

Eventually there’ll just be billionaire landowners looking out of their helicopter windows to the medieval streets below, where tourists sit outside pubs and restaurants watching other tourists walk by.

We hug emotional goodbyes and wish each other luck in the face of this ironic tragedy, where the Irish force each other from their homes.

I head up Sea Road to the Crane, where I’m presented by a spontaneous performance that once again illustrates why Galway is so loved.

Down the bar sit a couple I’d met at Taylor’s a few hours before, so I raise a glass in their direction, jokingly asking who is stalking who?

One of the two lads standing between me and the couple turns round and apologises for being in the way. Would I like to sit closer to my friends?

I explain that I’m fine and he then reaches out his hand and tells me his name. I shake his hand and tell him mine, at which point (and far from lairy drunk, he is young, clean and charismatic) he stands back and engages everyone’s attention at our end of the bar by raising a glass and waving it in the air while looking everyone in the eye.

“To Thursdays!” he toasts.

We all smile, raise our glasses, toast


and drink, after which he shakes all our hands, and we all introduce ourselves to everyone else, and all of a sudden I’m on a night out with Peter and Gert from Vienna and they’re on a night out with Mick from Mervue.

Pure Galway magic.

It is disgraceful that a country with Ireland’s painful history allows good people from Galway City to be evicted in the name of financial gain. 

A mature nation would legislate for enforceable rent regulation, restrictions on Airbnb and independent scrutiny of vulture investors bulk-buying Irish real estate.

Above all, Ireland needs to build homes for all those sleeping on the streets, the people on the housing list, and those invisible souls struggling to get onto the housing list.

As an Englishman I’ll never understand how the same people who have long lectured me on the horrors of evictions and rack renting now rush to impose evictions once again.

©Charlie Adley

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