New Year’s Eve, Galway-style

The blustery, cold weather continued through the day on New Year’s Eve, the atmosphere itself a participant in the festivities. When we left the haven of the café, our plan was to go to one of the more popular pubs with live music, to establish a beachhead early before the crowds started to gather.

I’m not sure of the definition of early required to pull this off, but mid-afternoon wasn’t it. The place was packed, the music was already going, and the chances of sitting within the next few hours was next to zero. On to the next place. And the next. There were two sorts of pubs in that area: ones that were overflowing with humanity and ones that would not be having music that night. A couple of smaller, local pubs were inviting, but we’re in Ireland, dammit, and we wanted music. Our quest continued.

We ventured back to the square and up a different road, into a less pedestrian-friendly but consequently less crowded neighborhood. We tried a couple of places, then a bartender in one told us that the next pub up the road would probably have live music. The place was not crowded, rugby was on the projection screen, and the bartender confirmed that there would in fact be live music. While fuego and MaK took our excess electronic gear back to the hotel for safety, I settled in and scratched out a few passages in my notebook. The bartender was a personable guy; he had lived in New York for a while and so when I mentioned that I was from San Diego he asked if I was a Chargers fan and what I thought of their chances this year. I didn’t mention that the fate of that team rests almost entirely in my hands.

Eventually the others returned and we relaxed and tried to figure out the nuances of rugby by watching the games. It was a good way to spend some time after fuego’s birthday celebrations the night before. More people arrived, and after a while two girls and an older man started setting up their instruments. The band, at a guess a father and his two daughters. Before long they began to play, exhibiting not a shred of joy as they executed the songs. The first time the girls broke a smile was when one of them had a hard time with the words to a song. They loosened up a bit as the gig progressed, but they never stopped giving the impression they wished they were somewhere else. Still, it was music, Irish music by Irish people, and the pub was pleasant enough.

The band wrapped up at 9 pm, leaving us once more with the choice of crowds with music or comfort with none. We began to tromp around once more, heading back to a place we knew that was a bit off the main drag but would have music. We went in and I was surprised that the place was less crowded than it had been on previous visits. We easily found a place to sit and ordered drinks. Then the band started.

They were horrible.

Soon we were on the street once more, the wind throwing the light rain at is from random directions, and we followed a similar course, wandering through the streets, asking the police where they thought the best place to go was on New Year’s Eve. The King’s Head, the cops agreed, but the party there was spilling far out on into the pedestrian mall and I knew at a glance that that would not be the place for me. We wandered some more, my companions produced a bottle of Becherovka, fuego scored plastic cups from one of the clubs, and it slowly became clear that we would be celebrating the new year outside.

We made our way to a more sheltered street where there were other revelers under the awnings of the bars. fuego frightened some of the locals with his exuberance — one Irishman, in particular, responded with the typical passive-aggressive “I’m backing away from you slowly, but not without judging you first” attitude when my brother asked him why no one had fireworks. Of course, that just added fuel to the fuego and he spent the next few minutes explaining to the guy why fireworks were a good idea. I spent the time talking to a girl that was in the group with them, enjoying the contrast in style of the two main characters in the little drama.

Midnight came, midnight went, the year was new, the bottle spent. We made our way back to our B&B, to peaceful slumber.

2 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve, Galway-style

  1. I dunno why exactly, but I am reminded of the time you and I were waiting on the train dock, eating lunch. A bunch of school girls came up to wait for the train. Trying to be mannerly, I pushed the lunch stuff away to make more standing room on the dock. One girl was offended and said, she wasn’t going to take our lunch. I remember this as being in Ireland. A place where it is easy to miscommunicate. And the best of intentions are lost in a cultural chasm.

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