Posted: 3/27/2007


    It takes about 3 1/2 hours to cross Ireland from Dublin to Galway by bus, (an hour less by train but 3 times as expensive). Bus Eireann have  comfortable buses with music and ajustable seats-but no toilets on board. One driver told me that they used to, but the passengers behaved like animals so they removed them. You stop at bustling little villages, with churches, pubs, betting shops, restaurants, and the bus stops usually at a pub if you read the time-table.  Enfield-Ryan's. Clonard-Donovans, Kinnegad-The Phoenix, Kigeggan-Whelans, Horseleap-Ryans, Loughrea-Moylans...

   Galway is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, and the fourth biggest city in Ireland, with Galway Airport, Knock Airport to the North and the world famous Shannon Airport 90 minutes to the South, bringing in lots of visitors.  They have the Music Festival, the Oyster Festival, the Film Festival, the Galway Races and now the UMBRO GALWAY YOUTH CUP, at the splendid Drom Soccer Park outside town each August.

   I was eating a pie and drinking a cider in the sunshine on the Wolfe Tone bridge over the fast flowing River Corrib and noticed a memorial a yard or so away. It said that  "in 1477 Christofer Colombo, a Genoese sailor determined that from these shores land will surely be found across the Atlantic".  You can then walk on Spanish Parade under the Spanish Arch and along the Promenade looking at the swans and seagulls.  The narrow streets such as Quay Street boast music pubs, artists, buskers, jugglers and lots of tourists. In the main Square, Eyre Square, are 11 giant banners for the families of The Tribes of Galway, Anglo-Normans who controlled trade from the 15th Century. So far from London and Dublin they traded just as easily with France and Spain.

    I took the local bus to the splendid beach suburb of Salthill and to Patrick Pearse Park, home of the Galway (gaelic) football and hurling teams. The hurlers were hosting Tipperary and a crowd of about 11,000 showed up on a sunny spring afternoon.   I leaned over the railings next to John Haverty who had his 3 young sons with him.  9 year old Jack, the oldest, played for the St Thomas hurling club about 22 miles East and was a right back, and his hero was the left midfield of Galway, Richie Moray, and all the kids wore the maroon jerseys or training tops of their heroes.  At the end the scoreboard read GAILLIMH 0-28 TIOB ARAIN 3-13.  That translates as Galway getting 28 shots over the cross bar and between the uprights ( 1 point each) while Tipperary scored 3 goals in the net X  3 points -9 plus 13 1 pointers for a total of 22, SO the home team won 28-22.  The match was live on Irish TV and keeps them in the lead. In this part of Ireland hurling is more popular then Gaelic football, but that's not so nationwide. 

    I took a bus into the legendary Connemara for half a day to  Clifden, with wild mountains, Connemara ponies, hardy Galway sheep and cattle. Near here in a bog Alcock and Browne crashed their plane after being the first flight across the Atlantic from Newfoundland, and Marconi sent his first message across the sea. I returned hungry to find McDonagles, a family run fish restaurant on Quay Street. They sell huge plates of fish and chips, you can choose from plaice, cod, salmon, ray wing, whiting or smoked fish plus the best fish chowder I have EVER tasted.

    Phil  Bradley, Tournament Director of the Umbro Galway Cup showed off his clubs facility- DROMS SOCCER PARK which his club Salthill Devon FC use, with 10 pitches and 8 small all weather 3rd generation small pitches, and a luxurious two storey headquarters.  I also visited  Galway United's stadium and they recently got promoted to the League of Ireland Premier Division. They are across the river from the  National University of Ireland-Galway, where teams at the Galway Cup are housed.

    You can see across the water to the 3 nearby Arran Islands which can be reached by fast boats or  by air in 8 minutes.  You are all waiting to read about the hookers in the headline. WELL, hookers are the local style of sailboats, not what most you you were thinking !!