Ireland/Britain 1998 day 12: Galway

I slept in really late this morning, no big surprise due to all the door-slamming and copulating going on around me throughout the night (if only the Quay Street Hostel made their guests read this article). As a result I missed the morning ferry to the Aran Islands and was pretty much stuck in Galway for the day. With no major sightseeing destinations in Galway itself, 31 January 1998 became my first vacation from vacation day.

First up, getting my stank clothing cleaned at Pleasant Hill Laundry. Although the window sign said “self-service,” the kindly old woman who worked there insisted on doing all my laundry for me as I watched. I’m sure if it was my maleness or Americanness that made her think I could not launder my own clothing, or if self-service just means something different in Ireland. The best part of the laundry was The Extractor. Between the washer the dryer, she put my clothing in this cylinder-shaped device which forcibly squeezed out all the water.

Next, lunch at AbraKebabra, an Irish fast-food chain that serves disgustingly greasy – and thus delicious – food, with plenty of vegetarian options. Here I learn from the radio that the song I’ve heard repeatedly during my travels is “Dr. Jones” by Aqua and that Larry Gogan is a real person, not just the dog in Roddy Doyle novels. I worked off the fat with a long stroll to Salthill, a scenic seaside suburb of Galway.

Returning to Galway, I popped into Taafe’s pub for an afternoon session of Irish trad. While enjoying the music I chatted with a middle-aged Irish working man. Telling him that I worked in a history museum prompted him to share that he’d been misled by the history he learned in school that wasn’t true, such as that the Irish rebels of the Easter Rising actually won the battle.

Filled with spirits and seeking the Spirit, I attended a Vigil Mass at Galway Cathedral, a lovely structure that is kind of the Camden Yards of Cathedrals because it was built in the 196o’s but given a retro-look the Middle Ages. The Mass was beautiful although I was thrown when all the other congregants recited the Lord’s Prayer in Irish!

That evening, I made a supper of the delicious chips at McDonagh’s (I’m sure the fish is good too, if you like fish). Then I attend my second session of the day in the upper room of a wonderful pub called The Crane. I heard some of the best music yet in my travels, and talked with a nice young woman from Portlaois as well.

Not bad for a day when I didn’t do anything!

River Corrib

The swift flowing River Corrib in Galway.  The dome of Galway Cathedral is in the distance.


Not everyday you see someone carrying a kayak through town.

Painting a Boat

Low tide is a good time to paint your boat.

links of the day for 31 January 2008


  • Must We Fear Adolescent Sexuality? (Feministing, 1/24/08) – “”basically that adolescent sexuality is dramatized in one country (good ol’ U.S. of A.) and normalized in the other. Parents in the Netherlands repeatedly expressed believing that love between teens is very possible, whereas American parents scoffed at it.”
  • One Bush Left Behind (Greg Palast, 1/29/08) – “Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.”
  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Independent (Easily Distracted, 1/29/08) – “I tend to look at politics the same way Jane Jacobs looked at cities, as something that grows organically out of experience and usage. The strong party or movement loyalist looks at politics the way that Le Corbusier looked at cities: as a thing to be built by rigid principles, and damn people if they’re too stupid or recalcitrant to live in the city of tomorrow the way that they’re supposed to.”
  • The Last Article On The Traveler/Tourist Distinction You’ll Ever Read (Brave New Traveler, 1/30/08) – “The whole point of travel is to pursue the meaning behind the milieu: to discover oneself in the mirror of the Other. Travel isn’t dictated by fad or tradition, but by curiosity. It is internally directed. Fixation on the role or material affairs only distracts from issues of real importance. We are all tourists. We learn by doing. Our knowledge comes by the fine art of making our screw-ups something beautiful. And unless you’re willing to go down roads unfamiliar to the cowards and cynics, the art never arrives. It is upon these are the roads where we are made travelers.”


Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1, the United States’ response to Sputnik, which also carried out important scientific research discovering the van Allen radiation belts:

  • Scientific American podcast Science Talk (1/30/08) – “Carl Raggio, formerly of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, talks about the efforts to launch Explorer 1, the first US satellite, which went into orbit on January 31st, 1958, exactly 50 years ago this week.”
  • 50 years after Explorer 1 (Bad Astronomy, 1/31/08)

Free Stuff: