Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Galway: The working man's routine

I am settling into a routine: the routine of a working man in Galway. It is amazing how quickly I have begun to feel like I belong, or at least like I am part of the daily life of the citythough I must admit that living in a hotel and eating in restaurants is really not part of the daily life of the city. But working here has become a routine for me.

My hopes that the laundry man would be more punctual on Monday morning this week were ill-founded. If fact, he was later than last week, despite the fact that I told him I would be here and he said he would be on time. Oh well. I want my clothes to get washed, and I want to get all of them back, so how can I get angry with him?

For dinner that night, I returned to McDonagh's for fish and chips. The batter was perfect: light and golden brown, and the fish was cooked through. I was happy.

After work on Tuesday, I decided that it was time to expand my geographical circle and venture into a part of the city I had not yet seen. Since it was pouring rain and Rouge, my dinner destination, was some distance away, I opted to take a taxi. The restaurant lived up to its reputation. The fixed-price menu included amuse bouche (appetizers to please the mouth), the most distinctive of which was frog's legs. Despite my decades-long association with and love of French food, I had never tried frogs legs. I was pleasantly surprisedas the advertising had said I would be. I would definitely do them again, even though getting enough meat off the bones to really get a good sense of the taste took considerable time and effort.

I had saved Rouge for tonight because it was close to a pub called Crane's that has a reputation for good music. When I arrived, a young flutist and a concertina player were performing in the main part of the pub. They were okay, but not worth the effort to get there. However, I had been told that sometimes other music sessions were held on the first floor. When I inquired, the bartender pointed me toward the stairs.

It turns out that the universitys music department is sponsoring a song project to encourage the preservation of traditional vocal music; participants always gather at Cranes on Tuesday nights, but not every week. Lucky for me, this was a meeting night. About a dozen people in their late forties to sixties, maybe one even in his seventies, were sitting in a circle, each with a pint of Guinness or some other lubricant in front of him or her. I arrived just as they were getting started. The program consisted of someone just starting to sing a song (generally a ballad), not really performing, but more in the spirit of sharing. All the songs were unaccompanied, with the primary vocalist soloing on the verses and others occasionally joining in on the chorus. There was no harmonyjust straight melody.
Song Project at Crane's Pub
This may sound a little dull, but it actually was very good, and very moving. The group would have welcomed me to join their circle had I wanted to do so, but I did not. I simply wanted to observe and experience what they had to offer. What a gem of a find!

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