Here I am sitting in the Rathmines library; it’s a lovely building! Thought I should try to catch up on my posts so here we go! After my stroll along the water my eye was attracted to this stunning photo on this building, close to the Spanish Arch:
Right in front of it was the Galway Museum so I went for a little visit! It’s a very small museum but it was very interesting. They had some curraghs that were quite lovely (a type of Irish boat with a wooden frame, over which animal skins or hides were once stretched) and they had objects from medieval Galway (there is not much left in the way of buildings from that period alas) but what I found most interesting of all was a postcard exhibition entitled “An Post C Both Sides”. Irish people (wherever they may be in the world) were asked to submit a postcard to:
“…celebrate postcard design and the skill of handwriting. Anyone can take part in the project to make a personal statement, depicting a favourite memory, a special place, someone important or even a secret. There is no set theme, just the criteria to communicate for the price of a stamp and use a postcard as the medium.”
Each postcard was in a plexiglass holder that you could flip so as to see both sides; I could have stayed there all day looking at the stunning artwork but also, reading total strangers’ deepest inner thoughts. It’s amazing how easy it is to share our most intimate thoughts with total strangers and yet, with family and friends, it’s not always the case. I felt very lucky to catch a glimpse of so many souls…
Next I stumbled upon T. Dillon and son; the home of the Claddagh rings! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claddagh_ring
I managed to make my way through a crowd of German tourists to have a look inside 🙂
I ended up buying myself one at another store called “Hearts of Galway” (it had only been open for a few weeks) because I thought they were much more attractive (picture to follow in another post). After having read about them, I am wearing it on my right hand with the heart facing away from me; let’s see if a handsome Irish man notices…(guess I’ll have to wait ’til I leave Dublin for that to happen…hehe).
I saw some very colourful buildings as I kept walking:
And of course, the Irish do like their Guinness… 😉
Ahh, such nice fluffy white clouds against a dark blue sky; made me happy 🙂
Next I went to visit the Collegiate Church of Saint Nicholas and I loved it!! It was free to visit and what I really enjoyed was that I was alone inside for the most part of my visit; I like to take my time and look at every little detail.
“The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use as a place of worship at the heart of Galway’s life. It is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of mariners. There is some disagreement about when it was built, but it was certainly finished by 1320. It is bigger than many Irish cathedrals, and still the largest parish church in use in Ireland. During the 16th century, when the famous 14 Tribes were at the zenith of their power, the church was extended by two of the most powerful families the ffrenches and the Lynchs, each of whom built a new side aisle to the nave, resulting in an almost square interior and the unusual three-roofed profile.
On the outside of the church one can see 2 mermaids, a dragon, an ape and a magnificent lion. High at the roof edge are a series of stone gargoyles, some of them richly carved into horses heads, a manticora, human heads and another lion.
Amongst the visitors to St Nicholas’ over the centuries the most famous is probably Christopher Columbus who prayed here during a visit to Galway in 1477. Less welcome were the Cromwellian troops who used the church as a stable for their horses after the siege of Galway in 1652. They are blamed for the headless and handless state of most of the carved figures inside the church.”
Ok as you may have gathered by now, I took a LOT of pictures there…Just as I was about to leave an old man walked in and started chatting me up about my camera; he told me that he was a photographer and that he had been featured in one of the local papers two weeks ago. He was hilarious; he asked me where I was from and told me I looked Irish (well, I am a quarter Irish). Then he told me what shots I should take in the church and of course, being me, I did it just to make him happy — and it worked! Hehe, so sweet.
My last stop was Lynch Castle, which, sadly now houses a branch of AIB (a bank); how the government could allow this to happen, I do not know but it saddens me. The building had amazing gargoyles on it (have I mentioned my obsession with gargoyles yet? Not sure how it happened but I have one!)!
“Lynch’s Castle is a fine example of the fusion of new and old in Galway. The building has been cited as one of the finest examples of a town castle in the country. Town castles were popular homes for wealthy merchants in Ireland in the 15th and 16th centuries and Lynch’s Castle dates back to this time. Over the years the castle has been modified, even though the original structure remains intact and beautifully preserved. It is particularly notable for the quality of stone carving on the exterior which features the Lynch coat of arms and a number of decorative windows.”
I think this is my favourite gargoyle of all time!!
These ones are super cool too!!
Right, so now I must laud my hosts Breege, Louise and Noel O’Shaughnessy, from Abacus Guest House in Glenina Heights, Galway http://www.abacusguesthouse.com/. From the start they were very warm and friendly toward me and they bent over backwards to help me when I told them that I was looking for a studio apartment. They lent me a map of the entire city (not just the free tourist map), told me what neighbourhoods are nicer and safer (I would have been lost without that info), called friends and neighbours to see whether they had something available for me and finally, Noel drove me to the bus station on Sunday morning as he said there were not many local buses on Sundays 🙂 It was a stressful time for me but they made me feel like I was staying in my very own home and for that, I am grateful. Thanks guys, I’ll be back for sure when I go visit the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher!!!
People were overall much friendlier in Galway — once when I was looking for one of the flats I had to visit I was lost and looking at my map when this girl about my age stopped her car and asked if I was lost; when I said yes she said: hop in, I’ll drive you. She didn’t know the street either but we figured it out! I was so relieved, it was hot and I’d been walking for ages in the burbs!!! I love you Galway, too bad I couldn’t have stayed 😦 But everything happens for a reason, right? RIGHT? 🙂