Day 05 - Thursday, September 13, 2018 - Galway Sports & Games; Walking Tour; Drive to Clifden
Today was a travel day; the temperature was 47 degrees with “light clouds” which translated into Colorado weather jargon as rain!
Richard and Thomas loaded our bags and we were on our way at 8:30. We traveled north as Thomas told us about the Viking influences on Ireland. Among other things, the noted red hair of the Irish came from the invaders from the north.
We were treated to a rousing version of the national anthem, A Soldiers Song, a historical story of the Irish fighting against the English. He explained the unhealthy relationship that the Irish people had with alcohol and how the country was influenced by a pugilist attitude, a nasty combination.
The second song was Ireland’s Call, pleading for unity on the playing field “side by side”. This anthem was played at rugby games because there is only one Irish team, combining the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The team is rated as #2 in the world, second only to the All Blacks of New Zealand.
At 9:30 we stopped in Galway and learned all about sports in Ireland and the GA Club, the Liam Mellows Gaelic Athlete Club. The GA Games featured hurling, Gaelic football, and rugby. Our host, Tadhg, the hurling coach, welcomed us and explained the sport and the expectations of playing for the club because of the neighborhood and parish you were born into.
The warriors and soldiers of the 11th century developed the sport of hurling as a training exercise for the wars. As he described the rules and the customs, I could not imagine a more testosterone influenced sport!
Tadhg also described the minor differences between the men’s game of hurling and the women’s game of camogie that is just as popular and an even faster game.
The ball was called a sliotar and the stick was called a hurley. Helmets are now required but the players hate to wear them. The only subs are for blood injuries and needless to say, the sport is very physical. No players are paid; most have full time jobs as teachers, doctors, or other professionals.
Donning a helmet, Taghg gave us each a hurley and a sliotar and took us out to the practice pitch and gave us basic lessons in the game. Sorry to report that no one in our group was recruited for the parish team, but Vic and Mark were acknowledged for having potential.
We had a lunch snack of sandwiches, scones, and cookies at the club before setting off for Galway. Richard let us out in the city for a short walking tour with our fearless leader Thomas.
We began our tour at the Galway Tribes Square. There was a stylistic memorial representing the majestic red sailed, masted ships of the traditional fishermen called the Galway Hookers.
The flags and crests of the 14 founding families of Galway were also displayed in the Tribes Square. Interestingly, one of the families honored was the Lynch Tribe. Lynch is the maiden name of Gennie’s sister in law, Linda.
Thomas took us to Murphy’s Ice Cream Shop and treated us to the famous delight. He has been very good about giving us a brief overview of things to see and then letting us go about on our own.
We left the group and visited the waterfront, the Spanish Arch built in the 16th century, the old locks, and the medieval city walls. We met at 3:00 and drove for an hour and a half to Clifden, in Connemara.
We checked into the hotel, an old railroad station opened in 1895 as the Midland Great Western Railway. We got all settled into our new home for the next two nights. The hotel staff was wonderful in helping us with another chair so we could work for a few hours before our dinner.
At 6:30 we met our group and walked across the platform to The Carriage Restaurant. As we have promised ourselves to cut back on our food intake, we shared a fresh mozzarella salad and a pot of steamed mussels served in a light cream sauce. Just enough for a perfect meal!
We talked a little too long and then at 9:00 we came back to the room to finish the journal, shower, and prepare for another day’s adventure in Connemara.
Accommodations: Clifden Station House - Meals included: B, L & D
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My great grandfather was James Lynch! Congratulations to Vic for “having potential.”
My great grandfather was James Lynch!
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Another exciting day. Thanks for the updates.
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