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Day Six In Galway: Second Attempt at Letterfrack, Impromptu Solo Pub Crawl

The first sign that I I wasn’t meant to go to Letterfrack on Tuesday either was that I forgot my packed lunch. I didn’t realise I had left it in the fridge until I was halfway to the bus stop. I was up early and caught the bus into town in time for the 8.30 to Letterfrack, but there was no bus no. 421 or 420 at Eyre Square. I crossed the street and walked up to the coach stops outside the train station, and bought a ticket from the machine inside. I went into the Bus Eiren Office to double check which stop the Letterfrack bus departed, but was told by the attendant that there was in fact no bus to Letterfrack until 6pm! Upon checking again he informed me that there was in fact a bus at midday, but that it departed from the coach station down the road. On my way to the coach station, I stopped in at the Tourist Information Centre to see if they could clear a few things up for me. Although there was another bus at 12pm, it would only take me as far as Clifden, 14 kilometers from Letterfrack, and I would have to catch a taxi the rest of the way. The lady at the tourism office advised me to return to the train station and get a refund for my ticket, as the machine shouldn’t have sold it to e if the service was not available. I did so and the man at the Bus Eiren office gladly refunded me. I made my way back up past the tourism office to the coach station, and found out where the bus to Clifden left from. Now that I was there, I decided that perhaps I would abandon my effort to go to Letterfrack for the second time, as it would be too much hassle to get there from Cliften. It would be easier just to wait until the next day when i could get the bus all the way to Letterfrack and back again.

It was still only fairly early in the morning, so I popped down into town. I found Hazel Mountain, a hot chocolate shop that Laura had recommended, and waited until 10am for them to open. There is just something about the hot chocolates in Ireland that make them simply divine, and I think it has to do with the milk. I then popped up to the post office to send my Mum a card for her birthday on St Patrick’s Day. I popped up to the City Council to request a list of the halting sites, and was asked to make a written request there and then, which the lady would pass on to the appropriate person. All I wanted to do was find out when the sites were established, but apparently that is classified information! I still hadn;t heard from anyone i’d left my number with, so I didn’t have much hope here. I would just have to make it up.

I headed home and phoned the Garda District Office, who informed me that it was not possible for them to set up a meeting for me with a Garda officer, but to try the Garda Press Office in Dublin. I even went so far as to contact the Garda Training College in Tipperary, but once again had my name and number taken to no avail. Another instance in which I felt I was going to have to go by the knowledge I had been able to derive from the internet, and make up the rest!

That evening I headed back into town to have dinner and scout out a pub/bar for a location in my book. I had dinner at Nimmo’s restaurant next to the Spanish Arch, and then had my second milk draught at Bierhaus.

I took advantage of their wi fi for some time, and then headed to the next destination on my solo pub crawl. I located all the pubs and bars Laura had suggested to me, but did not go into them all, as it was getting later and i had my third attempt at getting to Letterfrack the next day. I had not gone into all of the venues, but I did go into Tig Coili (pronounced tig coo-il-ee), where I had a half glass of Jamieson’s whiskey and sat back to listen to the live band playing traditional music. I arrived home at midnight, to be up again at 6.45am.

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Day Five In Galway: Magdalene Laundry, City and County Council, and Mill Street Garda

It’s now Monday, and I had originally planned to travel to the township of Letterfrack  to visit the site of the former reformatory school, St Joseph’s. The night before I stayed out later than anticipated, so decided to put the day trip off until Tuesday. Instead I decided to get a few things ticked off my to-do list in town.

My first stop was the County Council. I was seeking a list of halting sites and dates that they were established. It was late in the afternoon by the time I got into town, and the Housing office was just about to close. At the counter beside me, a woman with bleach blonde hair wearing a hooded jumper and activewear tights was arguing loudly with the woman serving her behind the counter. Meanwhile, her three children were waiting by the seats provided, one of them howling at the top of his lungs. another lady served me at the next counter, and seemed somewhat taken aback by my request for the list of halting sites. She took my name and phone number and told me she would have another woman who dealt more specifically with those details contact me.

After the county council, I thought there would be no use in going to the city council building, as they would most likely have been closed by now too. So I went onto the next item on the list. My AirBnB host Laura had suggested I visit the site of the Magdalene Laundry in the city.

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Memorial for the victims of the Magdalene Laundries, Galway City

The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, also known as Magdalene asylums, were institutions of confinement, usually run by Roman Catholic orders, which operated from the 18th to the late 20th centuries. They were run ostensibly to house ‘fallen women’, an estimated 30,000 of whom were confined in these institutions in Ireland. In 1993, a mass grave containing 155 corpses was uncovered in the convent grounds of one of the laundries. This led to media revelations about the operations of the secretive institutions. A formal state apology was issued in 2013, and a £50 million compensation scheme for survivors was set up, to which the Catholic Church has refused to contribute. The site of the Magdalene Laundry in Galway is now a rape crisis centre for women.

By this time the evening was setting in, and the last item on my list was to visit the Mill Street Garda Station. By this time I was feeling fairly anxious about walking into a police station and asking to interview and officer. However I knew I would regret it if I didn’t at least try, and the worst they could do was say no. So I marched myself on inside. There was a small queue of people waiting to have official documents signed, and I let them go ahead of me as their matters were more urgent than mine. When it was finally my turn, I approached the garde at the counter. I introduced myself, telling him I was an author doing some research for a book, and was wondering if I might be able to ask one of the officers some questions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to answer any questions over the counter, but he gave me the number to call the District Office, telling me that they would be able to organise for me to meet with someone. I thanked him and was on my way, feeling very proud of myself indeed. Approaching the Garda had been the one task that had made me feel especially nervous, but I had overcome the discomfort and done it anyway.

My Irish Adventure

Day Three: Walking Dublin

My third day in Dublin would hone my sense of direction and map reading abilities. My plan for the morning was to visit the Dublin Writers Museum, and to find the Garda Station on Kevin Street on the other side of the River Liffey to take some pictures for my book research. I set out for the Writer’s Museum first, and managed to complete lap of the area back to my AirBnb accommodation instead, a distance of just over a kilometer. I was coming to realise that street signage wasn’t exactly consistent in Dublin. I had at least gotten a good look around the area that part of the book would be set in. I sat down to have a look at my street map. I have never prided myself on my map reading skills, but was noticing an impressive improvement since I’d been in Dublin. I started my journey again, and finally reached Parnell Square and the Writer’s Museum.

Parnell Street/Ryder’s Row

The Irish literary tradition is one of the most illustrious in the world, famous for four Nobel Prize winners and for many other writers of international renown. Situated in an 18th century mansion in the north city centre, the collection features the lives and works of Dublin’s literary icons over the past three hundred years, including Jonathon Swift, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce presented through their books, letters, portraits and personal items. Through their writing, these authors challenged the standards of social acceptance of their time, as well as the political landscape.

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After finishing up at the museum, I headed back to the flat for a brief rest and then headed out again in search of the Kevin Street Garda Station. It was about 4pm by this time. I walked along Capel Street and soaked in the evening ambiance. I walked all the way down to Graftan Bridge across the River, and made it to Temple Bar, passing by Christ Church.

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Christ Church

My instructions told me to take a left at Christ Church Place onto Nicholas Street, and then another left onto Kevin Street. Seemed simple enough. This walk was supposed to take me twenty minutes. It would be a further two and a half hours before I found the Garda Station on Kevin Street, taking a scenic route up toward the Guinness Storehouse, almost a kilometer and a half out of the way.

Light was fading fast when I finally found the station. It seemed like it had been a lot of effort for a few photos. However I had been able to have a good look around the surrounding areas, which would help me get a better feel for the place for my writing.

Kevin Street Garda Station

Finally, at around 6.30pm, I was on my way back home. My lower back was aching by now. I knew I would sleep well that night. I considered having dinner at one of the pubs or restaurants in the Temple Bar area, but decided I was far too tired continued on. I did, however, stop for a quick picture of the Hard Rock Cafe (you have to do it!)

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Hard Rock Cafe Dublin 

As I crossed back over the O’Connell Bridge to the north side of the city, to my left was the picturesque he River Liffey at dusk, and to my right a crowd of thousands of protesters marching against the Trump presidency. I was able to get a good look at the Garda uniform up close as they stood guard while the crowd passed.

I ended my last night in Dublin with a glass of wine watching Gogglebox Ireland with my hosts. Next it’s on to Galway.