Posted by: mdmusingsie | July 17, 2011

Big Wheel Keep on Turning

It’s definitely festival season in Galway and tourist season as well. Busloads of them throng Shop Street, adding to the already eclectic mix of languages normally heard in the diverse city. Large groups of teens or young adults can be seen along the promenade, shopping area, or other walkways, easily identifiable by their matching backpacks. It may have also been the reason there was a nice sized crowd of 50-60 people at St. Nicholas’s Tunes in the Church concert by the O’Beaglaoich clann on Friday, instead of the usual 15-20 folks at many of the others. It’s good for the economy, even if it does clog the streets and cause lengthy traffic jams in an lár.

The Galway Arts Festival is in full swing. It features a range of artistic events from gallery displays to poetry readings as well as theatre and music performances go leor. There was even an acrobatic show by a French duo in Eyre Square. I happened to catch one of the performances, along with thousands of others. The two men used a giant double wheel device to perform their stunts.

The week before I attended the Galway Garden Festival held at Claregalway Castle. Naturally, I went to view the castle more than the horticultural displays. Luckily for me they were running free busses from the Bus Eireann station to the event and back, in an attempt to reduce traffic congestion. Sadly, though, the castle wasn’t open except for the ground floor, possibly due to the large crowds; though they do offer viewings at other times. It opened officially last year after a number of years of restoration by the owner, an optometrist named Dr. Eamon O’Donoghue and his team. Although the restored top of the structure has the look of concrete, it is actually the same limestone material used to build the structure hundreds of years ago. It may actually give us an idea of what those Norman towers might have looked like when they were first built, in contrast to their well weathered current exteriors.

The site of the castle also contains a manor house and a mill, both undergoing restoration as well. The old mill race is easily identified by the archway underneath one section of the mill, though water no longer runs through there. An interesting display of large metal sculptures could be seen, including two bulls up on a small hill as well as a dragon perched over the public toilets located in the manor house. I overheard a gentleman who is involved in the project speaking to a family about the restorations and he mentioned they will be starting another project on a castle near Tuam. I applaud those with the resources to restore these majestic structures (and secretly wish I was one of them).

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