Going Galway: Part 4

August 4, 2010

A couple other observations about Galway. Galway is a small town of under 100K people that, like much of Ireland, is mired in deep economic recession. It's not really evident how much until you see headlines from the Galway Independent like "Jobs boost for Galway" where a pitiful 35 jobs will be created in the next year.

Though economically depressed since the famine of the 1840s, the city had had a brief resurgence in the last decade only to find itself on the skids again. Even our tour guide on route to the Cliffs of Moher made a mournful pitch for us to stop and pay money to all of the touristy places along the way like the Aillwee Cave in order to help out the local community. You got the sense that the young lad leading the tour through the underground caves was thankful for the change doled out at the end in the form of tips and, reminiscent of Peru, there were locals next to many attractions selling home spun wool scarfs and Celtic crosses.

It's curious to see how it's size and Catholic upbringing renders romantic relationships here in Galway. A local column in the Indpendent called "Single and the City," ("a tongue in cheek look at single life in Galway") when not writing about beauty products, offers advice to those looking to date:

"Was that a date?" the taxi driver barks at me the second I get in the car, pointing at the (male) friend who had just seen me off. This is a very odd question indeed. I'm starting to wish that I'd sat in the back and not in the passenger seat. I look at his registration photo, feeling a bit too intimidated to actually look at him, with the full intention of memorising his face in case he tried to feel me up and I had to bail out of the car while it was still moving (ask any smart woman who takes a taxi by herself at night - we all do this on some level).

The level of inappropriate sexual overtures (particularly for a culture committed to copious drinking) can definitely be felt in many social situations.

I've heard a song a couple times since I've been here called The Galway Girl. It's actually by Texan Steve Earle, though it's good enough that musicians will play it in the pubs over here. I quite like the lyrics:

Galway Girl

Well, I took a stroll on the old Long Walk
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
I met a little girl and we stopped to talk
Of a fine soft day -I-ay-I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do
'Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue
And I knew right then I'd be takin' a whirl
'Round the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl

We were halfway there when the rain came down
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
And she asked me up to her flat downtown
Of a fine soft day -I-ay-I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do
'Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue
So I took her hand and I gave her a twirl
And I lost my heart to a Galway girl

When I woke up I was all alone
With a broken heart and a ticket home
And I ask you now, tell me what would you do
If her hair was black and her eyes were blue
I've travelled around I've been all over this world
Boys I ain't never seen nothin' like a Galway girl


-cj- said...

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