day 20: claddagh nights

across the pond galway! travel

Today was a work day. An essay needed to be finished, so I found myself [along with my roommates] making significant progress hunkering down in our apartment to crank out our papers before the social event in the evening. 

One of our program assistants hand planned a wine and cheese picnic on the pier, or Claddagh. 

The Claddagh is a stunning walk along the canal/bay entrance made of stone and grass. In Galway, there is a store where you can buy Claddagh rings. The “magical” story behind them [if you want to call it that] is represented by 3 things, a heart, some hands, and the crown. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, and the crown represents loyalty. If the heart is worn with the point facing outward, you’re considered “single and ready to mingle”. If it’s turned in towards towards the wrist, that implies you’re taken.

Image result for claddagh ring
One of the many variations of designs for a Claddagh ring – image from×600.jpg

Around 7pm we took our blankets and bottles of wine to the pier— the weather was absolutely stunning. The gulls flew overhead, and the water lapped along the stone walls of the canal as bustling chatter fell over the outdoor crowd. It seemed like all of Galway was outside, either walking among the pubs and shops or spreading out on the pier with food and beverages.

We were happy to be one of them, spreading our blankets and passing around cheese and chocolate samplings that had been purchased earlier at McCambridges. 

view of the water!

One frustrating thing, however, is the availability of public bathrooms. A lot of places are really strict about “for paying customers only” and will have combinations on the doors, coin slots, or recruit the bartenders to do some heavy questioning. So that was a bit annoying— some of us just ended up going back to the apartment quick when we needed a restroom.

Once the sun started to set, people started to disperse to hit the night scene. One of my roommates was taking the sociology class the program offered, and one of her projects was to sit in various pubs around the area to observe demographics, energy level, and other metrics of the environment. I happily went along with her to collect her data at one of the oldest pub/restaurants in Galway— the Quays. Once a church, the place was converted into a multi-level bar with a sizable light-up dance floor and place for bands to congregate for live traditional music. We snagged a table on the lowest level and enjoyed people watching for about 2 hours that night, making note of the changing atmosphere the later it got. It’s kind of funny— I want to say around 4/10 times I’ve been in a live music atmosphere, I hear the song “Wagon Wheel” played. I forget that the Irish love country music, and it’s just one of those odd but humorously familiar things that you notice, I suppose. 

Image result for the quays bar galway
I didn’t have a great photo but I found one here:

It was getting close to closing time so Becca and I left, stopping briefly at our late night favorite spot— Giovanni’s for some *garlic* cheese chips, basically fries slathered in cheese/garlic mayo [did I mention that ranch is like, non-existent in this country?]. They were *delicious*. 

We fell into bed soon after, fully exhausted and full of fries. The next day we had to be up early to navigate our way to Foroíge to meet and work with the youth that would be embedded in our teams.

steph ☀

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