Today was mostly taken up by traveling between Dublin and Galway, so I won’t spend too much time going into the finer details of that. It was a breathtaking hour and a half train ride through the Irish countryside. Wide green fields and brown farming crops sprawled across the landscape. Large homes were set out in the middle of a large plot of land, grey stone buildings with moss growing in the roof tiles. Leafless trees with climber vines encasing the trunks. Dairy cows and black sheep, and some brown cattle up to their knees in mud in the holding yards close to the farmhouse. Power lines swept across the land. We passed through small villages with white houses and brown roofs, all identical to each other in rows.
Upon arrival in Galway, the I noticed a different kind of cold to that which I had felt in Dublin. Of course the air was chilly in the city, but here in Galway it was the kind of cold that takes a hold of you and chills yo to the bone. Perhaps it was because we are closer to the ocean here. I caught the 405 bus to Seamus Quirke Road and alighted across the road from the football fields. My AirBnB host Laura had called the them the Westside Playing Fields, but the sign out out the front of the fields read St Michael’s Gaelic Football Club. I thought for a short while that perhaps I wasn’t in the right place after all, but instinct assured my I was. Laura had instructed me to walk up the left side of the ‘pitch’, and by this term I wasn’t sure if she meant the football fields. Instead of wandering around like a lost sheep, I decided to go into the nearby McDonald’s restaurant to access their free wifi to contact Laura via the AirBnB app. Although they advertised the free wifi, I had to move tables three times and go outside twice before could access it. Even when I got it working, it failed to send the message to Laura, and I couldn’t get Google Maps to work either. So I conceded to the fact that I was going to have to follow my instinct and hope that the was I thought I needed to go was indeed the right way.
I reached the other end of the football fields and started toward the big hill ahead. I was able to wheel my big yellow suitcase alongside me without pulling it along, however as the ascent increased, I found myself standing behind the case, bent over and huffing and puffing as I pushed it up the hill. At the top of the hill I turned left as instructed and went into an estate called Cnoc An Oir, following the house numbers along until I found the one I needed. Please be the right place, I begged in my head. I could not walk any further. I approached the front door and knocked. I heard the sharp tap of shoes inside, and the moment the door opened, Laura threw her arms around me. I was taken aback by her excitement at my arrival. It was as if she was welcoming in an old friend. I came inside and she set me up with a cup of tea and a piece of shepherd’s pie. We sat and talked in the kitchen as if we had been friends for years. We talked about my writing adventures, and I told her about what I would be researching during my time in Galway. Well, it was clear to me that fate had placed me in exactly the right place. Laura was so full of knowledge about everything I needed to know and was going to be researching, from the reformatory schools rub by the Catholic church, to the prisons around the country, to the Garda Police, to the Irish traveller community. She either knows about it herself or knows who to get in touch with for the information. She was able to find more information on the internet that I have been able to find on my own from Australia. I simply cannot believe my luck! I certainly picked the right place to stay in during my time in Galway!
So with all of this information, I will make a plan of action moving forward to get this research underway.