I had heard about Charlie Byrne’s for a long time but just never bothered to look for it. Until today.
I decided to go and check it out because my newly discovered book club is reading Atonement and I didn’t want to buy a new copy. I was hoping I would find a second hand one at Charlie Byrne’s.
I found a little more than I bargained for. It is a beautiful place. It is a difficult place to describe. There are times and places in which Galway seems like a throwback to the nineteenth century. Charlie Byrne’s epitomises that side of the city. It is really very quaint. A book lover’s paradise. A place that I am sure is going to drain me of the little money I have.
When you walk in, you are stunned by the old school decor and the books that are literally falling off shelves. Ireland as a whole feels cramped for space, but this little bookshop takes it to another level. There are rows and rows, tables, stacks on the floor, stacks on shelves, and even books that almost appear as though they are suspended from the ceiling.
It is very definitely what a book shop should be. Don’t get me wrong, I like the well ordered, neat, sterile, more commercial places. I spend a lot of time in Easons and Dubrays. They are great, but they don’t have the magic of an independent, small time outfit.
I can see why it is such a popular place. If you are ever in Galway city, you need to check out Charlie Byrne’s. The only issue I have with them is that the section on African books (history, literature, biographies and current affairs) is dismal and extremely disappointing. That is a real shame considering Galway’s growing African community. Hopefully they will improve in that department.
Other than that, it’s a fantastic place. And no, I’m not being paid to endorse them – but that might not be such a bad idea…
Today is St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It’s a big deal and people take it really seriously. My wife and I watched the parade in Galway and had an absolute blast! I can’t wait for next year’s.
The photos are of my wife having a shamrock painted on her, a flame thrower, and a celtic dancer. I took all of them. Pretty cool day so far. Off to the local pub now (with my camera) to check out what St Paddy’s eve is like.
I finally did it. I signed up at the gym!
It’s funny how weight creeps up on you. I think I’m in so so shape, but my pot belly makes me look a few years older than I really am. Don’t ask me how it got there, I don’t know! My first instinct is to claim that I was abducted by aliens and they put it there. Or we could go with my wife’s explanation. She likes to tell people that I’m carrying our first baby and am expecting soon!
The truth is that I moved to a country where food is dirt cheap and I got carried away. It didn’t help that this move coincided with getting married to a woman who prides herself in her ability to keep her husband well fed. Oh, and let’s not forget the months of unemployment in Cork. Cork is a cold wet city and if you don’t need do be somewhere, you stay put. I stayed put in a one bedroom apartment eating cheap food. The result is a BMI flirting with the ‘obese’ category. Not bad for a skinny kid!
Finally I’m taking action. I’ve been told that if I don’t I could die before my 72nd birthday. It took all the self control I have not to point out that the life expectancy where I come from is 39 and anything close to 70 would be considered a miracle. I just shook my head solemnly and behaved well for a change. I had my first workout today and I lived to tell the tale. I almost enjoyed it even!
If you’re in the Galway, feel free to drop by Leisure Land. You might see a round guy desperately trying to stay on his treadmill with buckets of sweat pouring off him. You’re more than welcome to come up and say hi – Lord knows I could do with the excuse to take a break!
I went down to the beach this afternoon. I find that just chilling there helps clear my mind and helps me focus on what’s important. The only thing more relaxing is maybe spending the day in front of a TV screen watching a cricket match – but you need to be wired a certain way to get that.
I now live just down the road from Salthill beach so it was a short walk to my destination. I had my iPod in pocket and sat on a bench, watching the waves crashing against the shore. I felt very self conscious though. I was alone, and as far as I could tell, I was the only black guy there today. I quickly started wishing that I had a pair of sun glasses to hide behind. The iPod was cool, but sunglasses would have helped make my vanishing act complete. Tucked away in my little cocoon of sound and light, or lack thereof!
A few months ago, I still had a company car. It was a beautiful Audi A4 and it has been my favourite cocoon of all. I felt truly safe and well hidden in it. So much so that on my days off work I would drive down to the beach whenever possible and just sit in the car. I’d try park somewhere where I could still see the waves, open my window, and enjoy the tranquillity.
What’s with all the hiding? It’s a fear of scrutiny I guess. I don’t even know if ‘fear’ is the right word. Let me try and put it another way. When I was young, my old man had two cars – a fancy one and a very simple one. More often than not, he drove around in the simple one on his days off work. He’d go on about wanting to be ‘inconspicuous.’ He just wanted to fit in and didn’t enjoy sticking out. Honestly, I thought he was just being silly. Now though, I can really relate. I miss being able to walk down the street and be totally unnoticed. No judgement, no rejection or approval for that matter, just there. I could just go about my business anonymously.
I can’t do that here. So I hide. I know that people can see me behind the shades, iPod, and even in the car (I miss that car). But that’s the best I can do. I can only pretend they can’t see me, just as they pretend they aren’t looking.
The Graveyard of Ambition. What a poetic name! I’m not surprised though, everything about Galway, my new home, is poetic. I could try and explain why it’s such an apt name, but Will Sullivan did a much better job than I could (click on link to read his article).
I can’t afford to have this place be any sort of graveyard as far as I’m concerned. I cannot have my dreams fizzle and be replaced with by some sad state of acceptance. I just can’t have all the sacrifices I’ve made come to nothing.
No, Galway is going to be the place of my rebirth. One day I’ll tell people that it was in this so called graveyard that my dreams came to life. In Galway I’m going to write the first of my articles that gets published by a newspaper – and it will be followed by many more. I’m going to develop my writing here. I’m going to learn how to build clean, sharp, professional web sites. I’m going to conquer my fear of ridicule and my addiction to approval. I’m going to start up my web business and do great things. And I’ve already begun!
It has been about 2 weeks since I started this blog, and although it isn’t the busiest place on the web, I’m grateful to those few people who have begun to drop in regularly. Although it’s still difficult to say exactly what type of blog this is, I know it will take shape and a community will grow around it. And although I’m doing better here than I am on my other fronts, I’m not discouraged. Actually, even if my success on this blog is modest, it motivates me to keep at it on all my other fronts (freelancing, learning web design, photography and ecommerce).
Galway was also at one stage Europe’s fastest growing city. Hopefully, a little of that will flow my way.