Double Vision with Charlie Adley
Being a scribbler brings unexpected and very welcome fringe benefits. In March 2009 I was writing about how good it felt to have my backside on a barstool in Lahinch, Co. Clare. A midweek night, the gales were bowling gigantic breakers onto the beach and over the sea wall. The hilly seaside town was very quiet and apart from myself, everyone in the pub was a local.
The old fella next to me was eating his fish and chips. A little girl was attracting attention by practicing her Irish dancing. Neighbours chatted to neighbours.
“This is what the tourists who come to Ireland want: as real a slice of Irish life as it is possible to experience.”
Three months later, far away on the Pacific North West coast of America, Ryan Ver Berkmoes googled something like “Real Irish life” and came upon the online version of that colyoom.
He emailed me, explaining that he covered Ireland for Lonely Planet guide books and was coming to Galway. Could I tell him anything about the best places to go in Galway? Could we get together and have a chat?
We arranged to meet up outside Tigh Neachtains at 2pm. It was a rare Summer afternoon, hot and still. White T-shirted 20somethings paraded their blistered sunburned biceps. Gulls swept down to scoop up chips dropped by the hordes of tourists parading along Quay Street.
I sat outside the pub, admiring the tiles on the medieval rooftops opposite, drinking in the river of deep blue sky running above the narrow street.
A large avuncular man walked directly towards me with his arm thrust out, inviting a handshake.
“Ryan? Hi! I was wondering how we were going to recognise each other. How did you know it was me?”
“I couldn’t miss you! You look exactly like you do in all those great cartoons Allan Cavanagh does of you each week!”
“But he draws caricatures! What are you saying?”
I went off to get pints and we sat outside that unique pub, talking easily to each other for many hours. Ryan’s face wears a natural smile. He’s easygoing yet hardworking, hedonistic yet self-disciplined; almost a mirror-image of this city.
Thankfully, he’s not a man in a rush, so the afternoon unfolded before us in a gentle stream of pints and people. Passers-by stopped to chat over the rails, to share a little craic and gossip; to do what Galwegians do.
Surprised by the number of people who said hello, Ryan mistakenly took me for some kind of social magnet, until I explained that this was just the way of Galway, where we all have our 10,000 Howyas and nobody knows anyone’s address.
To read Charlie’s full column, please get this week’s Galway City Tribune.