My hotel is on the Dublin Road, some distance from the town center, which is annoying because the town center is the place to be in Galway. I can ride the bus into town or pay €10 for a taxi but it is better to be there in the first place.
I took the Segway tour, led by Nora, a recent NUI Galway history graduate. It’s fun being on the thing but it takes up too much of the sidewalk and I kept having to apologize to the people I was crowding. Many people want to try it out but it’s not possible says Nora. One old sod says “Children are easily amused by their toys” and I tell him he’s jealous because he’s on Shanks’ mare. Another character wants to tell Nora how to do her job, asking if she’s told me about Christopher Columbus’ visit to Galway. (She had). I felt a bit foolish with the attention that the Segway drew, but it is fun. I left the battery for my camera in my hotel so got no pictures.
We went past a dock where, Nora told me, a Danish ship, the Thor Gitta, is under arrest after a dramatic lifting accident in which a sling broke and dropped one of two foot ferries it was loading into Galway Bay. Three men who were foolishly on the ferry at the time sustained minor injuries. The crew of the Thor Gitta are meanwhile killing time on the deck in the fine weather while the legal paperwork gets sorted. The ferries serviced the Aran Islands until bankruptcy forced their sale to a company planning to run them in Mauritius.
Saw the Spanish Arch. Saw Claddagh, memorable to me because of the Clancy Brothers parody of the traditional Galway Bay:
On her back she has tattooed a map of Ireland,
And when she takes her bath on Saturday,
She rubs the sunlight soap around by Claddagh,
Just to watch the suds flow down by Galway Bay.
Saw the Lynch Memorial Window, which Nora calls the oldest tourist trap in Galway. We briefly met the members of the Dublin band Fight Like Apes who were loading their van and talked about Seattle a bit. (They had played the Trinity Ball with Jessie J. Ireland is a very small country really. Nora was a bit star struck). I had the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York in my head all afternoon:
The boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay,
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day.
Saw the Long Walk and the Salthill Prom, both mentioned in Steve Earle’s great Galway Girl. Saw the John F. Kennedy memorial in what is officially the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park but which everyone calls Eyre Square. JFK was made a Freeman of Galway Borough when he visited on June 29, 1963, three months before I saw him at a groundbreaking on the Hanford Nuclear Site, and five months before his assassination in Dallas.