Galway ramble brings ups, downs, music – and dance!

Charlie Adley
Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

Just as I first did 25 years ago, I’m arriving in Galway City on the bus to Eyre Square. Now, where and what is drawing me in?

Just as then, so too now, it’s O’Connell’s great pub that first suffers my arse on a barstool. Friendly and full of characters, I could stay all night, but it’s barely evening and there’s much rambling to be done.

I’m too early into both Murty Rabbits and An Púcán, both empty, save for the bands who play away. Is there a lonelier sound than a banjo in an empty bar?

Barr an Chaladh in Woodquay is already buzzing with GAA buzz and bluster, but as I plonk myself down, backs both sides of me are turned to the stranger, so I head south, like a swallow in Winter, seeking warmer climes.

Crossing Eglington Street feels tonight like the border between strange and familiar. The lads told me to visit Tribeton, for the spectacle of the building, but truly, I can’t be arsed.

This Tuesday in January proves an absolutely perfect night to be out in Galway City. Dry with a gentle mild breeze. Nary a festival in sight. Empty roads.

For a second, I’m overcome with nostalgia and head towards An Tobar, but then I remember it’s closed. Open everywhere are a host of new eateries. Taquerias, chili cafes, sushi bars, kebab, falafel, and coffee shops.

A long way from the dearth of food that greeted me when I first came to Galway in 1992. Then, it was considered classy if a little tinned sweetcorn was served with your sangidge, and never mind the brine soaking into the meagre pan, making it soggy and yuk.

Strolling past Tig Coili’s, I can hear my excellent friend Dalooney and the crew playing up a storm, but it’s onwards for me, past the Kings Head, which is now a live music whiskey bar bistro. Used to be that being a pub was enough, but evidently not any more.

Lovely – ah! That’s me flopped into a chair outside Tigh Neachtains, where my Jamie comes in at €5.

Ouch indeed, but sitting here on a calm evening, watching Galway walk by feels comforting, like a gentle recurring dream.

A little later, I go into the middle bar to say hello to an old friend I haven’t seen for ages. I ask after another old friend, and she points to an empty stool and tells me he was sitting right there, and now he’s outside smoking a fag.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.