“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost
Saying goodbye to Cashel was bitter sweet. An evening hanging out in the local pub with lively conversation with the residence about who our next President will be and what my thoughts are on the subject, watching the bar tender load the fire place with coal and thinking how a fire place in a bar would not go over well in the US.
If a traveler wants a local Irish feel, they should head to Cashel it will not disappoint. Alas, I must continue on; this time to Galway. Unlike the previous few days, the road to Galway is mostly highway; paved with multiple lanes. The drive from Cashel was about 3 hours and the contrast between the two places could not have been any greater.
Galway is a sprawling city, with roundabouts couples with stoplights and the traffic is no joke. Ending up in a city has it’s perks, the GPS is now finally working and finding my way to the city center is easy but finding a place to stay is not. Hungry, slightly hungover and tired I find myself parked on a residential street.
There are literally bed and breakfast every 100m. Luck has been on my side with finding reasonable accommodations thus far so why should this day be any different, right? Wrong, as mentioned Galway is a busy place, I went to 3 different bnbs but they were all full. Wanting to just take a nap, I went back to the car to think.
Like a lightening bolt, remembering I still had the airbnb app on my phone I started to search. A room in the city center came up for $40 so I quickly messaged the host, Dara. Within minutes he messaged me back and gave me explicit instructions on where to meet him, where to park and directions.
Find the parking lot was easy which is not usual for a city the size of Galway. You are able to park in the Cathedral of Our Lady assumed into Heaven and St. Nicolas for 4 euros from the time you pay until 9am the next morning. Other places in the city will twice as much with a very limited time frame.
TIP: So you don’t get lost from this parking lot, start at the front of the church, head over the bridge and take a right and follow the river path. At the end of the path take a left. Any street on the right will take you to Quay Street (pronounced Key). Quay Street is a pedestrian street lined with shops, bars, and restaurants.
Keeping with the theme of this trip I started walking but took a right instead of a left and got lost and wish I had the above instructions. While being lost, I stopped two older gentlemen for directions. The older of the two says, “I will just show you, it’ll be grand”. He is dressed in a tweed jacket, slacks, button down shirt, and the iconic Irish cap. He also is using a walking cane so we proceed slowly down the street.
As we walk we discuss where I am from and what I do for a living. When I tell him I am a photographer, the man gets another peep in his step. “Oh! I use to be a photographer. The photograph which made me the most money was of of John F. Kennedy. Do you know who John F. Kennedy was?” Wide eyed and wanting to hear more, I exclaimed, ” of course”. He continues on without missing a beat.
“Well, he came to visit Parliament (here I can only assume Ireland but this man had a British and Irish accent so not sure if it was Ireland or England) and I was a photographer helping out the official photographer. JFK was shaking hands with the Prime Minister and the main photographer was snapping away. He would pull his film out once the roll was finished and I would run it downstairs to be developed because we had a dark room in the basement. I took one photo, ONE and asked if I could have it developed downstairs. Do you know how much money I made off of the one photo?” Without stopping to let me answer he says, ” 600 pounds, 600….that was a lot of money back then especially for one photo.”
If I wasn’t meeting Dara, I would have asked to go home with him and see that photo. We approach a park and from there he gives me directions to Quay Street, asks me my surname, it’s Richardson, and tells me there is a pub up the way called Richardson’s and I should check it out. Thanking him for walking and talking with me we parted ways.
A walk that should have taken 10 minutes took me about an hour. If I had not been lost I would have never met that lovely man. I did ask his name but so much has happened between now and then, that I have forgotten it. I will never forget his kindness, zest for life and his story.