There’s a famous Irish pub song called “Galway Girl” that tells the tale of a man who lost his heart to a beautiful woman from Galway only to find himself alone with a ticket home and longing for love that was lost. Galway is a small Medieval town on the west coast of Ireland.
Galway is where the famed Claddagh ring originated and it is the source for so many Irish song references. I was curious about what made this place so memorable and impressive so I took a day trip (about a 2 hour drive from Dublin) to find out for myself.
There is a particular charm about Galway: narrow streets with boutiques and pubs; people sitting outside even on a 40 degree day and a liveliness in the locals. I can’t help but notice that even the graffiti on the buildings is vibrant.
The street musicians offer a swath of texture to this town. I see a man beat-boxing on an indigenous Australian didgeridoo wind instrument and a team of musicians singing Irish folklore and playing instruments that I’ve never seen before. Life is an engagement here.
I stroll to a corner pub called Finnegan’s Corner where I try the homemade vegetable soup and Shepard’s Pie. The soup was puree in texture and piping hot to warm me from walking outside.
The Shepherd’s Pie arrived in a dish larger than my head and the meat and spices made my mouth water long before my first bite. Accompanying my main dish (which was topped with mashed potatoes), was a side of small potatoes, a stack of mashed potatoes and gravy, a large pile of cooked cabbage and an enormous helping of fresh cooked carrots.
I wanted to eat it all but I knew it would never happen. Ireland is the land of hearty appetites and I learned very quickly that traditional Irish food is truly comfort food at its best.
A few miles beyond Galway is the Salt Hill coast. The water is choppy and the sky is very grey, but few weather conditions can conceal the enormous and protruding cliffs covered in a green velvet hue that seem to anchor the scene.
This is one of those times that I need to just stop for a moment and process the mental Polaroid that will undoubtedly live in my memories forever. Do you ever see something so beautiful that you can hardly believe it exists? I do on this coast. The breeze coming off the water, the fresh air, and those cliffs…it is magical.
The Salt Hill coast sits off of the village of Claddagh, which is an old fishing village. Yes, this is where the famous ring got it’s name. The hilly streets and tiny village structures are quaint and welcoming. Visitors stroll on the walkway along the coast finding their own special moments.
After visiting the coast in Galway, I think back to the song “Galway Girl” and wonder if that disappearing beauty wasn’t a girl at all. Perhaps the lyrics refer to the beauty of the coast and the cliffs that captured the gentleman’s heart and left him forever longing for something he will never see again. I understand.