August 12, 2014

Galway Girl

"Well, I took a stroll on the old long walk
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
I met a little girl and we stopped to talk
On a grand soft day -I-ay-I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do
'Cause her hair was black blonde and her eyes were blue
And I knew right then I'd be takin' a whirl
Down the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl"
-Celtic Thunder

Galway is one of the culture capitals of Ireland, and my second stop on my Irish tour. When you have six days to explore an entire country, it's awfully challenging to choose where to go. I'll tell you, that I mainly chose Galway for two reasons: first, I was told downtown is the source of classic Irish pub music and second, this image on Pinterest. You should know by now, it doesn't take much more than a pretty picture to convince me. 

I was quickly given evidence that I was not lied to about the musical prominence in Galway; the streets are given their own Gaelic soundtrack from the numerous street musicians. 

Since I was only in the bay village for a day, I set out immediately to explore, despite the cover of standard cloudy Irish skies.  

Something about the gloomy sky over the bay, though, felt right there, surrounded by Irish pubs and fishermen. 

I had to stand there awhile, just gazing at the picturesque row of houses lining the bay, basking in how remarkable it is when you're Pinterest-dream life becomes a reality. 

Since I had, like I said, planned my venture to Galway around that particular bay picture, once I'd properly soaked that up, I had little more to do than wander blissfully and take some (hundred) more pictures of my own. 

As I walked, I spotted my next exploration destination: the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven & St. Nicholas, or less of a mouthful, simply, the Galway Cathedral. 

The path to the Cathedral led me along the length of the Friars River. 

Finally, after a mile or so, I arrived to the monstrous edifice. 

Somehow the church actually seemed bigger on the inside

(I promise that was not an intentional Doctor Who reference, but it happened so I'm just going to leave it for all who will appreciate it). 

All around the church there was some of the most spectacular stained glass I've ever seen, in intricate flower shapes. 

And let's be honest, as usual, a really scary Jesus. It consistently shocks me that exceptional architecture will so often be littered with questionable, garish art.  

However, when I raised my eyes above the mosaic, a mammoth ceiling towered above me. The warm wood felt somehow familiar, and upon finding a sign I realized why: it had been constructed by California Redwood trees. It was a bit painful to imagine how many thousand-year-old trees were necessary to build such colossal ceiling, albeit stunning. 

After gaping at the spectacular cathedral for longer than most, I went on to wind my way back to the town center, in search for food (per usual). 

As I walked, the late afternoon sun began to peak out from behind the clouds and reflect of the rushing river. 

When I arrived back on the streets of Galway, the sun light was hitting the buildings, making the vibrant colors of the town come to life.  

I made a stop at Galway's most famous fish shack, McDonagh's, picking up some fish n'chips to go. 

I took my feast back over by the bay, to bask in the warmth of the sun and the light briny breeze lifting off the water. 

Below my perch on a bay wall, I made a very hungry (and scary) friend. 

I really can't blaming him for wanting what was some excellent fish. Not too fishy and not too bready, a surprisingly difficult perfection to come by. McDonagh's fish definitely deserves the raves it gets, even though the fries were a little disappointing; far too mushy for my taste.  

I wasn't the only one enjoying the sunshine. The longer I sat there, the more people scattered around the ledge, reading, hanging out with friends, or having a late lunch. I would learn over the next few days that Ireland doesn't get a whole lot of sunshinny days, and so the three I experienced in row were really an anomaly. To say that the Irish are excited by good weather would be an understatement. 

As the sun went down, I headed back to my hostel to ditch my camera and large bag once again, and went out with some girls in my room to listen to some proper Irish pub music. I didn't even hear Galway Girl once, and if that doesn't scream authenticity, then I don't know what does. 

Yours, Kenna 

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