Monday, May 11, 2009

Re-visiting our trip

This flu is proving harder to shake than I had thought.
Another day in for me after a bout with the bathroom after breakfast. So I am trying to put the time to some use by transferring some of the earlier blog pages to Corel ready for printing when we get home. I know that I will not catch them all up, but at least I will have started! When going back over them and adding more of our photos to the pages it amazes me just how much we have seen and learned in our 149 days on the road so far. Have been working on Barcelona and Marseille over the last two days.

Michael has gone into Galway to do a Walk. These walks are often conducted by the local Visitor Information Centres although in some areas they are commercial enterprises (Edinburgh) and include many of the local historic sites. Galway is (like many cities of its age) another walled city. The walls are not standing as much as some of those we have recently seen, but the remnants are clearly visible.

Galway is a university city, and on such a SUNNY day the bayside and city precinct is boiling with humanity. University students, tourists, work people are moving with a purpose in their step or just lounging on the grass areas soaking up the sunshine.

Galway first appeared at the mouth of the River Corrib as a fort in 1124, (built by King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair [1088-1156],) and by 1651 had developed into a garrisoned city. Regrettably, little remains of its former walls, battlements and bastions, as Galway had suffered greatly from border conflicts. By 1691 the stalwart families of the city were ruined, Galway declined and would not recovered completely until the economic boom of the late twentieth century.

Nowadays, Galway is the third largest and fastest growing city in the Republic of Ireland, basking in its economic revival. This is due to sound economic investments and the contribution from a university economy.

However, Galway is a vibrant city offering one and all a food-fest! Yes, folks, this is my kind of town: cafes and restaurants, all proffering a variety of fare. If there is any evidence of Galway's past is in its streets; many are narrow, meandering and which seem to capture the aromas of these eating houses and are thrust upon unsuspecting wanderers. Thai, Indian, French, Ceylonese, like ethereal mallets.

Wait a minute...what's this then? There's some cove.... shearing.... a.... sheep - well, I'll be buggered!

Most of the city's architecture is relatively "new", with the exception of Lynch's Castle which is medieval townhouse and now occupied by the Allied Irish Bank. Walking through the streets, one comes across purposefully placed pieces of sculpture. One in particular shows Oscar Wilde and Eugine Wilde (neither related) seated on a park bench. Ah..the park bench is also cast in bronze, rendering it and the figures as one sculpture. The Galway Cathedral is relatively new - opened in 1965. Interestingly though, the cathedral has a Romanesque portico and an unusual feature for a modern Irish church. (...well, I did state it was 'interesting'?)

The walk took me through the city and along the bank of the River Corrib and weir, there was even a bloke fly-fishing down from the weirs' overflow! Then I headed for the University and its renowned Quadrangle. This is the oldest section of the university, erected in 1849, which originally housed various scholastic disciplines.

Then it was back to the north end of Galway, and the mural on the end wall of 'Sally Longs' and the rumoured shopfront of 'Couch Patatas'! These all contribute to Galway's uniqueness.

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