Going Galway: Part 1

July 26, 2010

I booked a train to the west coast for the Galway Arts Festival, a weekend of theatre, live bands, and art installations. It was my first time taking a train in Ireland and, as such, there was a bit of an... altercation. I reserved a seat on the train so I would be sure to get a window seat, but when I walked up there was an older Irish gentlemen sitting there.

"I'm sorry, I believe you're in my seat."

He waved me off. "I can't see the print on that ticket. And anyway, there's no sign, except for this one across from me."

Sure enough, there was a flier on the table across from him spelling out reserved, but none where he was sitting. I shrugged and sat down in the reserved seat, making small talk with him. Soon a crisp guy in his early 40s with a shaved head wearing a suit, sat down next to me and set up his laptop to begin work, followed by another older gentlemen across from him.

Five minutes before the train was to depart, a guy roughly my own age with split teeth and curly black hair with a dust of grey came up and told me that he had reserved my seat. I explained that the guy sitting across from me had taken my seat and he explained that there was no reservation slip. Words were exchanged and the gentlemen next to me scoffed at our latecomer, telling me not to move because the train reservations were always fucked up and you're supposed to get there early. We were at an impasse. We kept going round and round until someone asked who the last person to sit down was. We all looked at the second older guy who sheepishly shoved his nose in his newspaper.

Finally, it was decided that he would move across the aisle, the first older gentlemen would move to the aisle, and the guy my age would sit across from me, effectively switching seats for our reservation. This was fine by me, as I would have been going backwards had I kept my original reservation. The shaved man next to me kept cursing our latest arrival under his breath for making such a fuss and our new arrival promptly busted out tall boys of beer and began drinking. You can drink on the train? Fuck. Should have grabbed some beer.

I got into Galway, checked into my modest hotel, and immediately took the bus into town. I had heard such lovely things about Galway, but I was shocked walking into City Centre to find it so touristy. Neon Bud Light signs hung in every pub window and crowds of young Europeans swayed drunkenly through the streets. It was reminiscent of Playa del Carmen. I wouldn't have minded so much had I been with my mates, but this was not what I expected. I had some seafood and went to see a solid production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, and then walked around the city looking for any redemption.

In the back alley behind a club I heard some lively music and found that it was a Pogues cover band, The Bogus Pogues, were playing a benefit for West's Community Garden Project at a club called Róisín Dubh. Róisín Dubh seemed like a fairly good venue, as the Saw Doctors and Jakob Dylan were playing there in the next couple weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to see people my parents' age in the audience, but everyone was nonetheless dancing and pogoing excitedly to the band who, in true Pogues fashion, were getting increasingly shit-faced and having a lovely time. Seduced into the abandon of Galway, I started downing Guinness and screaming along mightily.


Unknown said...

Too bad you couldn't stay to see The Saw Doctors! They are fantastic.