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Galway

(Athenry)

A Memorable Irish Village

Nearly a week roaming

A walking-only street of Galway. Restaurants, pubs, a brewery to two, tony Irish clothing shops—really a reflection of Irish social life "on the town." You have to love it, at least for the time spent here. I hope we'll be within commuting distance for our Irish week.

Not every drop from those ever-present pub taps will be Guiness brew, but enough of the city's beer comes from there (in Dublin, on the east coast) that using the Arthur G's surname interchangeably with hearty, hoppy amber liquid may be forgiven. Michele thinks it's good stuff, indeed.

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A couple of inevitable local scenes of Galway: the Spanish Arch (nobody knows why this 16th century hole-in-the-city-wall should have gotten that name), and the River Corrib flowing grandly right through the middle of town. As a rule I prefer to use photos of older stuff in these pages—classical architecture, time-worn stone columns, sagging rooflines, fanciful statuary. But this is Galway today: proud of its vintage but moving on.

One thing to add, regarding a place in Éire; it doesn't have to be a city at all; in fact total immersion in a small village for a week or so would suit perfectly. A place like Athenry.

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Athenry ... now we're getting to the old stuff. The surviving core of this village is about 800 years old. its tumbledown abbey and old church and Norman castle are local treasures, cherished sites that add flavor to the entire village. Any apartment or B&B will be within easy walking distance of these sites.

Part of touching and tasting and hearing Irish culture, of course, can come only from passing some hours, over several days, in one of Athenry's Irish pubs. Barring some miraculous entente between me and beer, I shall be nursing glass of hard cider whilst companions all around rejoice in the heartier stuff, foam dripping over the edge.

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Spectacular as the Cliffs of Mohr may be (and they are), I would hope to spend this Irish time searching out sites that are more heart-tugging, although arguably more obscure. Stone circles? Neolithic fortresses?

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