Country Mouse, City Mouse
Last week I drove the winding, narrow roads from Derryherbert to Galway. The two-hour excursion took me from my idyllic country cottage to an equally idyllic “City by the Bay.”
I was invited to stay with my cousins out in Galway; meeting family and exploring the city from an insider’s vantage point only strengthened the connection to my roots. They live in Salt Hill, a section of the city with the most amazing view of Galway Bay and the Main Promenade. After settling in, we decided to walk the prom, as it was an absolutely beautiful day. Families were out swimming, lounging, and eating ice cream. It is tradition when walking the length of the prom to kick the wall at the end, which we did. We stopped by a local pub so I could meet more of my cousins, (my grandfather’s brother’s wife’s sister’s children!) Who Knew?
Eating out in Galway is amazing, offering a wide range of restaurants. Since I was with family we were able to “eat where the locals eat” and chose Vina Mara; the steak was cooked to perfection!
The highlight of my time in the city was definitely the Galway Races. Held annually for over a hundred years, the Races are the talk of the town. Ladies in hats and men in suits mingled among the crowds in the numerous beer tents during my visit. Bookies provide you a chance to bet on your favorite horse. My cousin Annemarie explained the different ways to bet on the horses, and with no horse racing experience, I picked the two names I liked best. Jacksonlady and Cailin Annamh, my two choices, came first and second, respectively, winning me €19.60!
I celebrated my beginners luck by buying drinks for my cousin and myself. Another cousin, David, was working in the Budweiser tent, so after stopping in to say hi we walked to the finish line for the next race. The thundering hooves rounding the corner vibrated the ground as a blur of horses and jockeys flew by. We took the next race in from the grandstands, and while I could still feel the ground vibrate, the cheers from fans for their favorites roared louder as the horses crossed the finish line. While we enjoyed the sights, Annemarie introduced me to everyone she knew—which seemed to be everyone! When I departed the birthplace of my ancestors, I felt like a true Galwegian.
After three whirlwind days in the city, it was refreshing to return “home” to the quiet, open Connemara landscape. Switching gears from city life to country life seems effortless here as the rolling green hills set the cadence and I merely follow along.
Blessed with beautiful 65-degree weather on Sunday, I attended the Omey Races. While the tide is out there is a massive expanse of beach connecting Omey Island to the mainland. A fair-like atmosphere with food trucks, rides, and, of course, bookies, covered the beach. Here, I could stand even closer as the horses raced around sending sand flying everywhere.
After such a busy week, I slept like a baby—and good thing, because I’m now on a train to Dublin! The Harry Potter fan in me can hardly contain her excitement, so I’m going to soak up every minute and will be back with highlights later!