Helen, a recent graphic artist graduate and our “free” city tour guide, said that she was not paid for her work but was compensated by “tips” based on what we perceived was the value of the tour. She obviously did her homework, and we learned in a humorous way a lot about the city’s history and points of interest.
On Eyre Square (aka the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park and simply “The Square” by locals) are 14 flags representing the 14 clans or tribes that governed the city in the past. On the walking tour, we visited the courthouse, the cathedral, the old port, the Spanish Arch, the old city, and St. Nicolas church which Cromwell used as a stable to show his contempt of the Catholic Church.
According to legend, the Lynch Window (right) is the origin of “lynching”. During the 15th century, James Lynch was mayor of Galway. His son committed a murder (various stories why/how). James the senior believed that everyone should be treated equally under law, and death was the penalty for murder. Though the younger man’s friends tried to intercede and prevent the hanging, the father placed a rope around his son’s neck and threw him out of the family home’s second-floor window, proving that no one was above the law.
After the tour, we visited the Museum (free) and walked in the old part of the city. Since this is race week, the city was filled with tourists; hardly a seat was free in the cafes and restaurants. The layout of this part of the city has not changed since the city was walled in: the roads are narrow, the buildings are original stone, and even some of the light fixtures are converted gas lamps. Many modernized interiors retain original beams and flooring, making this part of the city very attractive.
In this part of Galway City, there are people playing the harp, penny whistle, or guitar; mimes standing so still they earn the name “living statues”, and a sand sculptor creating this realistic-looking dog.
At the Visitor Office, we researched what to do next. I am becoming a wimp and do not want to hike and camp in the cold rain, which is the prediction for the next few days. We decided to go to Clifden where there are accommodations and many circular walking trips to points of interest. Even if it pours, we can warm up in the shower and dry off overnight. What a princess I’ve become!
For dinner we both had Irish lamb…simply delightful…and a meal anyone visiting this part of Ireland should sample.