Friday, November 12, 2010

Be a Fan

Remember that movie Almost Famous? The one that made you think you were born 30 years too late to have any real chance at ever being cool? Who was your favourite character? The pimply kid who was given an opportunity to write for Rolling Stone magazine? The roguish rock star? No. You wanted to be Penny Lane didn't you? Of course you did. She was fucking awesome. She was also a hell of an adventurer. Not because she had any real ambition or thirst for experience, but those Band Aids saw most of America simply following a fad around. The reasoning might not be great, but in practice its a damn good way to see some stuff.

Last summer my friend Lili decided to follow Kila to Tory Island. Now at the time I couldn't have given a toss about Kila, I just thought "wa-hey camping trip!" Nobody wants to hear me go on about Tory Island again (best weekend of my life blah blah blah) but if Lili hadn't been a Kila fan, and I a willing accomplice, I'd never have seen this...

Or this.


Last night I saw Wiggle play in Monroes. They're not the kind of band we would go see very often, usually opting instead for singer-songwriters in skinny jeans in the Roisin Dubh but ever since I first saw Wiggle in the Spiegeltent in Cork in 2005 I've been hooked. They are just so bloody infectious! You can't not wiggle at Wiggle. So what was so special about last night that it qualifies as an adventure? It was just... different. Wiggle's Band Aids are the lost children of West Cork hippies, and they dance barefoot in that distinctive hippy fashion; you know where they adopt a haka-like stance and slowly lift one naked little ankle-bracelet adorned foot, placing it gently back on the ground and then the other while their hands, grasped prayer like do elaborate figures of eight in the air in front of them, their lithe vegan bodies following their hands, like divers practicing on dry land, all in time to the less prevalent beats of the music so that when you look at the while crowd dancing like this it seems as though they are trying to slow the music with the force of their minds. They were awesome, I loved them.

A few friends were talking recently about the people who move to Galway (specifically from Dublin) because they think living in Galway secures their status as free spirits. Owen tried to argue that it wasn't unique to Dublin. "Put it this way" he said, "there are 14 million people in Spain, yet all the hippies are here."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Public Lectures: Adventuring while sitting down, learning.

Have you ever attended a lecture?

Not your own lectures for courses you're enrolled in. You're supposed to go to those, dumbass. I mean a public lecture hosted by an institution, academic or otherwise. Like these, or these, or any of thesethese, these, and these.

A composer with the most spectacularly bird-like hands named Robert Robertson (you couldn't make that up) presented a two part seminar entitled "Eisenstein and Synaesthesia" and "Eisenstein in the 21st Century" in the Huston Film School today.

Synesthesia as a concept has fascinated me for a long time now. The creative possibilities for interpretation are almost endless! Loosely defined, synesthesia is a confusion of the senses, so one would see music or hear a colour. Words become associated with visual representations of sounds, colours and images to the extent that it is difficult to reassociate the word with the intended meaning. As disabilities go it's bordering on super power. I mean how cool would that be?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Detours: Fort Hill Cemetery

I took my friend Arne Peters to Galway Bay Seafood's factory shop down on the docks for something fresh and stinky for dinner. I mean this fish is FRESH! As far as I can tell the boats pull up to the back of the factory, some gets smoked and/or packaged nicely then sent to the shops, some heads out to the restaurants, and some comes straight through the factory still wriggling and is plonked on a bed of ice and sold then and there. We got two beautiful hake fillets and plan to eat them with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Oh, and seaweed. Arne insisted on the seaweed. I think he has glamourised seaweed insofar as seaweed can be glamourised. Arne currently thinks seaweed is posh. Even the dulisk, which my father used to eat by the bag when quitting smoking, did not deter Arne the Seaweed Glamour Puss. Dulisk tastes like the sea weed... on your tongue. Salty. Bad.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Story Night

Story Story!
Once upon a time.
Time Time
Once upon a time I spent the most pleasant evening, in a cosy little theatre...

The first Tuesday of every month is story night in Galway. I've been hearing about this for several months, but only went for the first time last Tuesday. I now regret missing all those months.

The brainchild of Clare Murphy, story night has been on the go since 2006. Apparently it began around Clare's kitchen table, then migrated to the Spirit Centre only to out grow this venue last March. Story Telling night now calls the Blue Teapot Theatre on Munster Avenue home, and I can't imagine it anywhere else. When I arrived just before 8 on Tuesday there was already a comfortable crowd gathered at the front of the theatre on cushions and blankets, and on the chairs set up behind. The current set in the BlueTeapot is a forest scene, with foliage surrounding the beautifully painted back-drop. It looked impressive, and provided a little something for the story tellers to interact with, along with their audience.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Festival Season

We're fond of a festival in Galway.

This weekend the Galway Powerboat Festival at the Docks and Little Havana Festival in the Latin Quarter are vying for the attention of Galway's festival deprived population. It's been a rough few weeks. The Cúirt Literary festival was AGES ago (April), and the Film Fleadh, Arts Festival, Racing Festival and Boboró Children's Festival don't kick off for another twenty minutes or so. Much like Hallmark came up with the novel idea of celebrating a mediaeval mass murderer in mid February as a solution to the greeting card slump between Christmas and Easter, so Galway has pulled a weekend of drinking and entertainment out of it's ass. I get the feeling nobody looked at a calendar when agreeing to give them both the same weekend. They appear to be entirely unconnected.

I'll say this though: it makes for an exciting stroll into town.

Bandstands are popping up around the city like pimples on a teenager. A recent geographical phenemenon produced the "historic" Latin Quarter. I had never heard the Quay Street area referred to in this way until maybe 10 months ago. Extensive research has revealed it is most likely a reference to the nearby Spanish Arch, but let's be honest, the term "Latin" evokes a very different sense today. It's Cuban this weekend. Huge liquor sponser and all. If you want to see drunk sunburnt freckly ginger Irish lads flailing maniacally to salsa music while Havana Club paralhenalia clad bouncers stare on in amusement, Quay street is the place to be.

The setup at the docks is much better. The Galway Powerboat festival is a light version of last year's Volvo Ocean Race. The Let's Do it Galway people are at it again. A bandstand at the docks is hosting consistently good music all week. We saw Mick Flannery, and strolled through the various food-stalls and casual traders. A small old fashioned carnival is down there too, complete with carousel.

Unfortunately the Galway Powerboat Festival does not appear to have a website, so good luck finding an event guide...

[UPDATE: - now why didn't I guess that?]

Eventually Simon and I hit our tolerance threshold for expensive warm beer in plastic cups and escaped to the Crane for a pint on the way home. Does that place ever disappoint? We scootched in beside a girl out for a quiet one with her parents. She's looking sideways at the arse of the 6 foot 4 hippie standing beside her. The wee old man pub stools put her exactly at eye level with this mans nether cheeks, and the Mum turns around to me and asks "Do you think they're flesh coloured or is he just not wearing pants?" We debate a while, posing various hypothesis and not bothering to lower our voices much cos let's face it how much could a boxerless hippie in arse ripped jeans really care what people say? Meanwhile we're all staring, myself and Simon and our new companions, united in adversity, and this lads arse is like a solar eclipse; you know you shouldn't look but you cant turn away. I offer that perhaps they began as standard white Y-fronts and were tragically mixed up with the red shirt he had on him in the wash. The poor lady with the view looks square at us and says "Mum, I can see hair and freckles, Im telling you it's arse."


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Maghera Beach

It has been brought to my attention that I have more get-up-and-go than is average, normal, or in some circles acceptable. I've decided to expend some of this energy writing about some of the energetic things I do, and the ease with which I do them. See, the secret is, get-up-and-go is not so hard to come by. You just have to get up. You can get up. The go-ing is a natural progression.

I'll start with last weekend. It was Jessica's brain child and invented after a glass of champagne raised in celebration of an earlier adventure which does not fall under the remit of this post, having happened almost a month ago. Jessica desperately wanted to go to Donegal (why?) because she dreamed of Donegal mountain men and hoped to fall in love like an Austen heroine. Jessica is leaving for Florence this week - on an adventure of sorts - and when this all happened a month ago it was decided that last weekend would be the perfect weekend for a farewell adventure to Donegal. Are you buckled into your time machine?

Amy was there then, and living in Belfast, and having also consumed some of the champagne, wanted to come too. We agreed on the Five Finger Strand in Inishowen, a place Simon and I had discovered last June on a grander scaled adventure. You'll come to know and love Simon. He's the adventure co-pilot. I wouldn't dare call him a side-kick. Except, well, I just did.

We thought Amy and her Belfast friends could get the ferry over from wherever it is in Northern Ireland that dumps you out in Inishowen, and the Galwegians (Simon and me, Jess and her housemates Conor and Dilletta/Dilly) could come up in the adventure car, Scarlet; you'll come to know her too, she's the Bat Mobile. We planned to make our way to Donegal on Friday evening after work, kick long-suffering Daddy out of the homestead and dispatch him to his fianceé's house with well-wishes, then barbecue and imbibe on his property with great potential for late night cow-tipping. On Saturday we could adventure further north, gather a few other friends from the Donegal area, and meet the Belfastians on the Five Finger Strand.

You will come to learn that the SECRET (shhh) to little adventures is actually putting into action plans made while drunk. I'm going to make that a rule. Wait, I'll put it in the header. Ok done.

We lost Amy. She had an interview. This was not entirely surprising.

I WAS a little surprised when we lost Jess. Jess was sick. We never really expected Conor to come. He hates camping and is crap at adventures. And shortly after losing Jess we lost Dilly too, as their happy little home is now a broken one with Jess jetting off to Florence and Dilly jetting off to Spain and Conor being rather boring anyway, they wanted to celebrate and commemorate their last weekend in Galway together as a happy household.

Feeling a little despondent, I called Gareth. Gareth said yes. Previous late night excited phone calls and Facebook message or two in the last few weeks had got Tommy and Olga in a car from Dublin. Tommy and Olga are seasoned adventurers, and founder members of the Annual Camping Trip which happens 2 out of every 5 years. Dudley went to Derek's house in Donegal Friday afternoon, and they picked up Sean. Lucy invited herself, which was great. (Secret number two; invite yourself to be part of adventures organised by others. I'm putting that in too.) As I write this I realise it doesn't sound so spontaneous. You must understand none of this was hard work. I made a few phone calls. People said yes.

We all met at the homestead in Donegal. Dad was stalwort. He lit the barbecue, and avoided us. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! We sat on my back porch in our tshirts until late that night, enjoying each other's company, catching up, and feeling truly, genuinely happy to be in Donegal. We ate McGettigan's sausages. If you've never had McGettigan's sausages you need to fix that. Go to Donegal. Go to McGettigan's. Choose from the selection. Oriental? Lamb and Rosemary? Pork and Apple? Chilli and chocolate? Or the award winning Mango, ... mango... I can't remember. It was delicious You have to try it.

A lot happened on Saturday. We kept lunch simple in a restaurant in Donegal (Dear Ms. Waitress, I am sorry. We were hungover. We tipped well, we promise.) We bought buckets spades and rakes for the beach, of course. And balls for dodgeball. And funny hats. We split up.

Simon, Lucy, Tommy, Olga and myself headed for the beach, but about a mile outside Ardara I had a flash of inspiration. There is a little old man near Narin who rents boats to Doon Fort, on Doon Lough. He's brilliant. If you find the place you deserve a prize. There is nothing polished about this tourist experience. You are handed a bucket, pointed vaguely in the direction of the lake, and it is assumed you know how to row a boat. Please do not be so bold as to assume you know how to row a boat because you were once on a boat, or you saw a movie about a boat, or you have a certain basic level of intelligence/fitness and it can't be that hard can it? It can. If, for example, you get in the boat backwards to begin with you will fight a loosing battle in a zig zaggedy fashion for your entire lake excursion. Fortunately, with this gang, it's the journey not the destination. It was Hi-LAR-ious! We ran the boat aground. We had a ROUGH time working out the whole row left go right thing.
That said, the destination is fabulous too. Doon Fort is in remarkable condition for its age. It WAS restored in 1954, but as best I can tell all they did was slap a little concrete here and there on the 4,000 year old structure (that can't be right?). There is no visitor centre. There is no guided tour. Its just you on the Lough with a tangible piece of history you can walk on and climb over and admire and feel part of. There is a guest book. You have to sign the guest book. The little old man will remind you to do so. The guest book is TEN YEARS OLD! Nobody knows about this place.

We set up camp on Maghera beach. This may be the most perfect place in the world to camp. The beach is truly gorgeous. There are mountains behind you, caves at low tide, and with the exception of a fairly stiff tide really lovely swimming conditions. We dove right in. There is a house beside the parking lot, and if you see the man that lives there give him a few euro for your parking. He's a nice chap, and litter conscious to boot.

I won't harp on about the camping too much. My friends are beautiful people. It was wonderful to be around so many of them. But it makes for boring blogging. We did light Japanese fire lanterns at midnight. It was perfect.

I'll leave it here.