The Irish walk like they're being chased.
It's ridiculous. You think you've come to the land of the meander, the tangent, the long way round. Far bloody from it.
It might be a long way to Tipperary but these bastards are taking the shortest distance between two points.
Watch the shoulders, the lowered heads, the outright scamper. Where the Hell are they all going?
Tetchy. It's the only way I can put it. There's the velocity and then there's also the general disregard for lane safety. Tokyo feels less aggressive. Any moment you feel like someone's going to lend you a Gaelic hip check. A ten year old swung his book bag into me on a bridge in Galway. I'd of smacked him but there were seven more. Seven ten year olds could maybe do some damage.
Frightened Celtic tigers? Is it that? Is it……the Irish are warlike? That they wanna scrap?
Or is it maybe…. I do…..
Cab to the station in Dublin I almost told the cabbie to shut the fuck up I'd gotten too many gifts from his gab. It was like being in a cafe in Westwood surrounded by 5 jilted UCLA students. All wrapped into one man.
And then the 8 church ladies packed together on their way to Galway. Reassuring each other they were all there, tucking away their coats and bags and their tupperwared snacks which they thought they needed to hide. Gambling. Swearing. Chatting up the Serbian coffee kart kid until he started laughing, "ladies, ladies, my loves". You've never heard an Irish accent until it's been welded onto a Slavic one.
It is a beautiful accent wherever it comes from. It's 20 beautiful accents. There's so many you can't keep up.
But down West here in Galway you hardly hear it - what with the Spanish and the Yanks and the Italians and the Brits and the Germans all come to this picturesque sea side town -with a bay worthy of Steve Perry's voice- to gather in tawdry groups and listen to i phones together.
Galway's like the center of Barcelona. Crammed with the subsidized detritus of the Global Village. Co-eds with their off center baseball caps and hip once again lycra'd legs. Dreaded jugglers and drummers smack in the middle of the historic harbor jetties like so many bobble headed Bozos the clown. Squads of young men from any one of the Euro union's staggering states. 4 Italian guys, 4 Spanish guys, 4 French guys -who the fuck knows- with their matching treated jeans, their matching labeled T-shirts, premier league tops, and the curious almost Capezio like footware only 19 year olds from Rouen think is cool, all strolling in formation looking for that universal staple, wanted by all- the American college chick.
And boy have the ladies come here in droves. In schools. Like Herring.
I guess if I wanted to study abroad and hadn't really gotten around to studying one of those languages abroad people speak, I guess I'd have got to Ireland too .
And they have.
So who can blame these embarrassing boys. If I'd been born in a bankrupt suburb near Valencia and heard that every year more than a thousand corn fed, porn bred, relativistic American girls were coming to Galway, I might have camped out here too.
And then strangely, when you leave downtown Hibernia-Barca, the built landscape quickly becomes Northern California. Walk north along the "bike path" and you too can be a landed member of the New Irish Upper Middle Class. Which seems bound and determined to act like it grew up in Palo Alto or any of the mindless beach burbs between Irvine and La Jolla. (yes I know those are in So Cal.)
I guess I was just impressed by the sameness. The samenitude. That money looks the same as money all over the world. And people who've gotten a little money all start buying, wanting, and walking like other newly moneyed folks from Greenwich to the Galway Bay.
And I guess I wanted the Irish to be immune. To be all cottagey, and dour and mismatched and pluralistic even when it comes to their golden, breathtaking Western shore.
Which is neither golden nor a shore, but you get what I mean.
I didn't want to be in Ireland and be passed by latte laden moms driving Maclarens ( the pram not the car) in yoga gear and ball caps, 4000 miles from the closest ball park.
At least I haven't heard any Brad Paisley.
It's a gorgeous little town. A series of lanes curving down wide and well preserved canals full of dark emerald water down to the sea which made this place. There are still a few working boats in the various inlets (only one of them a Hooker, i.e. a Galway Hooker which if you didn't know and I didn't is a sturdy fishing boat built like it could take the wave in the Perfect Storm and come up laughing. Or drinking). At 6 in the afternoon the various whites and the blues and the greens of the plastered houses glow. Church domes and spires jazz up the curve of the coast. Clouds bunched behind give the place a Wild West feel, which I suppose it kind of is.
From a mile away out on a causeway which beckons but ultimately leads you to the town sewage facility, the narrow face of the city, its line across the horizon looks like an early Klimt landscape, or an early Mondrian. You could be in Holland or Northern Germany…..but then again, why would you want to be? Given the choice I'd rather be in Ireland. Listening to the guys try and teach their girlfriends how to hit a hurling stick in a green field the size of the rest of the city. Right by the water, cold as Maine with mothers and kids swimming in it and the curve of the Cliffs of Moher miles off in the distance.
I swat away some more sea flies, fed literally by the crap of Galway, and swear at myself for following a bunch of retirees doing their evening work out, out and back. There's a plaque at the end of the pier. I read it as some young lassie in her short short dress ( that is the default Irish look these days, praise Jaysus) runs from the flies and her lad chases past me…. "At the end of this causeway is the Mutton Point Lighthouse, the last light in Galway harbor proper and many times the last sight thousands and thousands of refugees fleeing the Great Famine ever had of their homeland."