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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Requiem for a Watering Hole

A lot of pubs and restaurants have come and gone since my first trip to Galway back in the spring of 2000. I still mourn my old favorites–the River God Café (sublime food, awesome mermaid mural on the stairwell wall), Bananaphoblacht (“Banana Republic”–they had the best hot chocolate), Camelot (such a romantic wine bar), the Snug (old-school, had just what it said on the tin). Another pub, Taylor’s, became a “Gentlemen’s Club,” turning Lower Dominick Street into the closest thing Galway has to a red-light district (aside from the “gentlemen’s club,” there are two sex shops, a casino, and a gay bar that hasn’t looked open for business in years. Or maybe that’s just what they want you to think…)

Anyway, I came upon an old matchbox collection from my college days, and I noticed a fair number of the places I got them from are no longer in business. I’m going to be a huge nerd and share them with you:

The Grange Hall used to be my favorite café in the Village–it was a really chill speakeasy-style bar/restaurant with wonderful comfort food (best garlic/herbed mashed potatoes ever), a portrait of F.D.R. above the bar, and a huge mural depicting migrant workers on the back wall. I based the local bar-restaurant in Mary Modern, The Dragon Volant, on The Grange Hall.

I had my last meal of the spring 2000 trip at Dish, a modern Irish restaurant in the Dublin city center–good food (I think I had a lemon tart for dessert), but not all that memorable otherwise. I’m pretty sure Dish is no more.

Langton’s (of Kilkenny) is still open, as far as I know–I just included it in the photo because this is the coolest matchbox ever. I ordered a Sex on the Beach there just to scandalize the elderly bartender.

And Caisleán ui Cuain in Kilkenny–such a friendly pub! I’ve remembered the friendliest places, because it was my first solo trip and I was feeling lonesome. It’s under new management with a different name now, something so dull I can’t remember it.

I never got a matchbox from the River God, though I did buy a t-shirt with a mermaid on it (and later lost it at a hostel in Dublin. That was nearly five years ago, and I’m still kicking myself.) I had a delicious lunch there on my own, then dinner with Kate when we visited Galway in ’03, and then with a bunch of my M.A. classmates the following year. When Diarmuid’s dessert came garnished with a sprig of mint, he cried, “There’s a nettle in me ice cream!” Oh, the happy memories.

I think somebody should write a guidebook for time-travelers… because if I had the power to travel back in time and ‘put right what once went wrong’ like Dr. Sam Beckett, naturally I would rather use it to get some really good food at a restaurant that’s closed long since.

1 Comment to Requiem for a Watering Hole

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    July 22, 2009 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Oh the River God! That was one heck of a meal and an o so sexy mermaid!

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.