Ghosts come in many forms and some of mine are pubs. Sometimes you can’t see or feel the ghosts, but they are there. When you’re pumped up for an exciting night out, filled with bonhomie and pure thick with the thirst, you’ll sniff not one whiff of nostalgic ectoplasm.
Then there’s nights like the one I enjoyed a few weeks ago: gentle solo affairs that involve drifting from bar to bar, staring at optics.
Those nights are not missions to get sozzled. They are times to feel comfortably alone, soothed by the familiarity of my arse on a barstool. Apologies to women, who still sadly cannot always enjoy this cocktail of security and solitude in a bar.
That night my spirits were droopy, my energy levels low. While it was great to suddenly find myself out and free in Galway City, the reasons I’d ended up there were demoralising.
I wanted a gentle night, so I started by nursing a Jameson at the bar of the Crane. Downstairs, never up. I don’t care for being shushed by an earnest Hostelero from Frankfurt wearing a Taliban headscarf, sipping his half pint Guinness, complaining that very much he likes the folk music.
My ghosts rise up from behind the seats opposite the bar. Over there my friends The Guru and The Magician, clutching gins and crazed grins, rising to their feet at midnight to sing God Save The Queen at the tops of their voices. To my shame I’d cringed with trepidation, but naturally the locals loved the anarchic and absurdist nature of my mates’ behaviour.
So much laughter. Now gone, as is my whiskey.
Down Sea Road a few yards to Massimo’s, and ghosts of our wedding party. What an amazing night that was, and it needed to be, as my dad had died two weeks earlier. A pair of English blow-ins, the Snapper and I lured 400 friends and family through Mo’s doors, and Galway showed everyone how to party.
Our friends, the staff and our Healy hosts pulled off a miracle, for which we’re forever grateful.
Another deeply personal ghost in Mo’s, sitting next to my father in that back bar, watching Chelsea win their first title for 50 years. He’d taken me to my first match when I was nine and then he was sat there, visiting my world, squaring the circle.
A man can have too many ghosts. Time to head off to the city centre.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.