Saturday, July 4, 2015

Galway and the Latin Quarter, Ireland

We had to drive around Galway past the Galway Cathedral and back again to find the hotel district near Ceannt Train Station and Eyre Square.  I asked for vacancy at a couple of hotels which were fully booked. We were fortunate in being referred to the stylish Forster Court Hotel. Given the popularity of Galway, when I return I’d plan to book a hotel in advance, and likely would stay at the Forster Court Hotel given the excellent welcoming service.
Setting out to explore Galway the next day we fell in love with the Latin Quarter.
On that pedestrian street we came across another Faller Jewellers.  Asking,  we learned that members of the same family owned this jewelry store and the one we’d loved in Londonderry.  Laura was delighted to find just the right Claddagh ring for her daughter Shannon.  The day before when we’d crossed Shannon River at Shannon’s Bridge to go to Clanmacnoise, Laura had been ecstatic,  saying  “I named my daughter, Shannon, after Shannon Ireland, and here I am crossing Shannon River.”  Now she was so happy to be able to buy her daughter one of the famous friendship Claddagh rings of Galway, depicting a heart (symbolizing love) between two outstretched hands (friendship) topped by a crown (loyalty). These rings were handcrafted by the local jewellers.  Further along the street we’d see the jewelry museum in the oldest jewelry shop Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold.
I’d been blessed to find the Faller’s Jewelry in Londonderry where I bought the gold Mura Cross which lead to Laura and my adventure to Fahan Village to find the actual St. Mura Cross in the St. Mura Church graveyard.  Now here in Galway I saw on display in another jewelry store, the Claddagh Jewellers,  a traditionally shaped Celtic Cross almost identical to the one I’d lost when I was mugged in Athens and had my gold celtic cross torn from around my neck.  This was the Cross of Muiredeach ( and the gold carving was an exact replica of the actual cross, the magnificent detail only apparent under a magnifying glass.  My original cross made in Canada had only been artistically similar whereas this one was authentically real. Feeling almost like I was betraying my Mura Cross I couldn’t resist and bought the Muiredeach, figuring I’d have a cross for every occasion. It would also later lead to another grand graveyard adventure finding the actual Cross of Muiredeach at Monasterboice, Louth.  I also bought Laura Claddagh Earrings  to go with the Claddagh Ring I bought for her years ago in the Celtic Store at Lonsdale Quay.
Ireland is gifted with book stores.  I’m convinced the Irish are simply more literate than Canadians in general.
We were able to change our Northern Ireland pounds to Euros at the bank in the Latin Quarter.  There we listened for some time to the Canna Quartet, a group of young women making wonderful string music in the street.  Further along a family group played beautifully. When we sat for a outside morning cappucino we were fortunate to have a talented young man playing traditional Irish folk music on the accordion across from us. Galway is the home of several music festivals.  Our friend Joyce Goodwin had encouraged us to appreciate the famed folk music in Western Ireland.  Now we were truly blessed as Laura saw an advertisement for a traditional music concert in St. Nicholas Church.
We’d go off to visit the Galway Museum, the Spanish Arch and walk the Long Walk along the River Corrib, tour the Galway Cathedral then return to the Latin Quarter for dinner.  We sat outside and had the very best Fish and Chips at the Quay Restaurant. I had Galway Bay raw oysters for an appertiser and thought they were nearly as good as our Fanny Bay oysters from Vancouver Island.  The people watching in the Latin Quarter was the best. After dinner we walked over to the nearby St. Nicholas Church for the very finest experience in traditional Irish folk music.
  IMG 9709DSCN5520DSCN5475DSCN5469DSCN5521DSCN5476DSCN5523DSCN5478DSCN5522IMG 9713IMG 9717IMG 9719DSCN5463

No comments: