One year ago two lunatic Americans landed in Galway with stars in their eyes and an ideal of ex-patriotism that proved to be so far off the mark that from this perspective it is utterly laughable. Yet the dream lives on and the happiness multiplies exponentially. There are far more good days than bad. Friendships are developing slowly but their worth is invaluable. We suffer a few aches and pains but overall we feel so much better here than anywhere else we have lived. Our routines have become very Irish, as have our attitudes about time and place. When the sun shines it matters not what the temperature is, only that we must get out and get that sunshine on our heads. The rain is inconsequential, an umbrella is useless here by the sea. We have chosen our sports loyalties and enjoy being informed enough to watch a match with the natives while being comforted by actually knowing what the hell they’re talking about.  Our ears have become attuned to the lilt, the accent, the colloquialisms, the cadence and rhythms of the language.  We’re even learning some Irish by ourselves.  It helps that Irish people like Americans, genuinely like America and its people.

Still miss the family tremendously. We try at every opportunity to tempt them into coming to visit us. Next year Ireland is participating in The Gathering 2013 – what a fantastic excuse to get everyone to come see us!

A blessing:

Lucky stars above you,
Sunshine on your way,
Many friends to love you,
Joy in work and play-
Laughter to outweigh each care,
In your heart a song-
And gladness waiting everywhere
All your whole life long!

And some random photos:

— Cindy


A fall market day

Another beautiful sunny autumn day in Galway.  We picked up fresh bread, the week’s fruit & veg, and hit the pharmacy and the grocery store – boy, was our shopping trolley full!  Enough of the vendors know us now that we get great bargains on their goods.  Ah, the joys of living in a small town with big city aspirations.

There’s a man who rides the Salthill bus on a regular basis who is confined to a wheelchair.  He usually travels with his wife.  Occasionally our paths cross.  Today Claude & I were sitting down taking a small break before heading to the bus stop to catch our ride home and this man wheeled up to us.  Claude, being the friendly fellow that he is, greeted the man.  He began speaking to us very quietly and slowly, it was difficult to understand him.  As I leaned in I realized he was telling us he has motor neuron disease and asked if we knew what that was.  I told him I have MS and so do understand neurological disease and he nodded knowingly.  Then he sold us a raffle ticket to support the MNDA of Ireland.  Well, I sure wasn’t going to say no, the man’s practically a neighbor.

We came out of the shopping center about 15 minutes early for our bus so I decided to take another wobbly video, this time of Eyre Square, the park in the middle of Galway City.  It’s a very interesting place, a gathering point for all kinds of people, and the place where they put the Christmas Market at the end of the year.

I may just make my wobbly videos a hallmark of our travels from now on.  Be warned.

— Cindy


So Who Are You?

The other day, as I sat at lunch, I met a fellow American.  (OK, so I am trying to become Irish but my passport still says USA.)  He said that his advice to people who can recognize the North American accent but want to ascertain which country someone is from is to ask if the person in question is Canadian.  From this question there are 3 possible responses which will very quickly pigeonhole the person.

  1. They will be Canadian and ever so grateful that they were identified as such.  A brilliant friendship may be in the offing here.
  2. They will be American but not insulted, and in fact may find it humorous to be identified as a Canadian.  A good humor laugh may ensue.
  3. They will be the prototypical ugly American and go “postal”, hurling epithets and generally ruining any chance of reasoned conversation.

Using this technique our enquiring person can quickly determine where the person in question is from and whether or not they might wish to pursue a friendship.  Simple really.

— Claude

Sittin’ on the board of the bay

Finally got up the nerve to climb to the top of the Blackrock diving board at the Prom last week.  My balance issues make climbing stairs a little difficult and especially these stairs as they are really small and slippy (as the Irish say).  But there I was arriving home early from my usual Wednesday journey into town and there were very few people at the diving board… so I decided to brave it.  The view is spectacular.  It was a cloudy day though so I couldn’t see much on the County Clare side.  There were a few folks braving the cold water for a swim.  I shot a very short and wobbly video of the view from the top of the diving board.

On Saturday we were returning from our marketing and the sun was shining brightly.  Once again there were very few people swimming, even though the weather was decidedly lovely.  I thought I would shoot another video from the same perspective.  It also came out wobbly but does show the golf course and lifeguard station a little more clearly.

I wish I could convey with mere photos and videos the beauty and grandeur of Galway Bay from our perspective – but these small offerings will have to do.

— Cindy


Getting a Bit Misty

Well the days are getting shorter and the mornings colder.  The last couple of days haven’t been wet with precipitation but just wet with the normal damp of western Ireland.  This morning was the second day that it was cold enough to require gloves and ear warmers and the air was filled with mist.  I took a leisurely pace over to the office.  The canal road was a bit crowded with pedestrians but the river trail was almost empty.  The entire trip was surreal with various birds drifting in and out of the mist, and their calls echoing across the water.  It was a good morning to be alive and a great time to be in Galway.

— Claude


Went to the Garda immigration office today to renew our visas.  It’s in a business park called Liosban (lizsh-bawn), on the Tuam (twum or too-wum, depending on who you’re speaking to) Road.  Takes 2 buses to get there from our house.

There was one couple ahead of us when we got there and one person being waited on.  Another 2 or three people came in while we were waiting.  But it only took about 40 minutes before we were sitting in front of a Garda officer.

As people who know me will already be aware, I have little regard or respect for police officers.  American cops are the worst – pushy, authoritarian, full of delusions of grandeur, prone to lying – so it is with high praise that I tell you that Gardaí are the nicest cops I’ve ever met.  They are polite, respectful, helpful and friendly.  Of course, I’m not an outlaw, or even a scofflaw, so my experience has been pleasant so far.

This officer started with my paperwork.  He began typing in the info and engaged me while we were waiting for him to process us.  He asked me, ‘How ye keepin’ yerself while yer here?’  Says I, ‘I volunteer my time with Age Action, teaching older folks how to use the computer.’  ‘Fair play to ye,’ says he.  ‘I have the mother-in-law from hell,’ he says, ‘and I’ve been teaching her the computer.  She’s really taken to it.. but…’  ‘Oh,’ says I, ‘you should just pony up the €20 and pay me to teach her.’  ‘Where ye at?’  ‘Small Crane,’ I say.  ‘Oh, I’ll have to think about that,’ he says.  And then he took my photo and told me that, as we Americans say, there’s “no free lunch,” so I hand over the credit card, he runs it, and we’re done.  But not before he says again, “Fair play to ye.”  Then it was Claude’s turn.

Once we were finished, and €300 poorer, this lovely man tells us that once 2 years of sponsorship have passed, Claude no longer has to be hosted or have a work permit.  Claude can get a “Stamp 4” visa from the Republic, meaning that he can just work without special permission.  This is very exciting to us because we thought we had to stay 5 years in order to stay permanently.  Claude has already spoken to a couple of employers who said that if he has his Stamp 4 he can get hired right away.  Time to marshal the fates and hope for an extension to the current contract!

So now we’re good to go until the end of June next year.  We’ll do what it takes to stay, but for now we can breathe a sigh of relief.  We celebrated with a nice lunch and a big piece of chocolate fudge cake.


— Cindy