11th May 2013
I was up and at ’em early today, Galway was almost deserted when I started walking around the town – very unusual for me to beat anyone out the door. Even some of the market stalls were still setting up as I walked through. There was a stall with big wooden tubs full of different types of olives and peppers, and a shop with more cheeses than I’ve seen in one place before – very tempting, even early in the morning.
After running out of sights around the town centre I headed over for a look at the Spanish Arch and then spent some quality time in the museum – although not large, it’s a mine of Irish information.
One of the saddest stories I came across was about the execution, for mutiny, of a soldier by the name of James Joseph Daly in 1920. Long story short, Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in India started receiving news of the savage treatment being handed out to supporters of Irish freedom by a special troop of British soldiers, called the Black and Tans, back in Ireland; at first they just refused to carry out orders in protest, but one thing led to another, and in the end, fourteen of them were sentenced to death and many more received long prison sentences. Only one of these death sentences was actually carried out, JJ Daly was shot in November 1920 as a result of his belief in the fight for Irish Freedom. No matter what your beliefs are about the Irish struggles it’s a sad, thought provoking story, well worth reading the link above.
I’d seen a tiny café just outside the museum that overlooked the river, it looked a good spot for a hot chocolate and some quiet time to maybe try my hand at a sketch. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I walked inside. It was full to bursting with tables tucked in every nook and people standing waiting for tables; but the staff were lovely and soon had me ensconced at a table with hot chocolate and piece of cake – you need to keep your strength up with all this travelling, don’t you?
As the weather was positively horrid I decided to take a drive to a place over on the coast that someone had recommended; apparently it’s where the locals go – Clifden. I drove through another very special part of Ireland on the way, the Connemara; all gorgeous grasslands, rivers and round hills. While walking off my lunch, I found an art gallery with some unusual mixed media pieces and asked the guy there whether they were a local artist’s work; turns out they were his and he owned the gallery. He was such a nice guy and in for a huge chat about all sorts of things, from scrapbooking to the state of Irelands welfare system; it seems no matter where we live we all have a moan about the same topics. He was showing me his stash of bits and pieces he has cut from books and magazines and I said he must be an excellent “fussy cutter” – a term some scrap-bookers I know use for cutting out around intricate shapes. He was rather impressed with the term, so, there you go, Lisa Kamphuis, the queen of fussy cutting, there’s a quite successful Irish artist using fussy cutting in his pieces. This is a link to his website, Gavin Lavelle, but this is a good site for him too.
I wasn’t quite brave enough to take any different roads back but the scenery is all so different that I wasn’t bored with it at all – and I managed to stop at a deserted cottage for some photos. I took a few outside then walked up to a partly boarded up window to have a look inside; I’m not sure who got the biggest fright, me or the sheep inside – but I did get a shot of them so it was all good. I also called in at a little pub I’d remembered seeing that overlooked the ocean just out of Galway for a very healthy dinner of a plate of chips and glass of red wine. Don’t you love not having to cook for other people and being able to have something totally inappropriate for dinner?