Pants found; Computer work; A couch successfully surfed; Sheryl's reunion with an old friend; The Crane Bar and a real traditional music session at last; Drunk Dublin cowboys

The street market in Galway is very narrow and very crowded, and by the time we’d negotiated the purchase of some olives, tapenade and bread (and a dress for Sheryl while I wasn’t looking) we were ready for some open space. Happily I was able to find some pants at a department store to replace the torn ones.

The rest of the day was spent working on the websites, until 6 when I was to meet Sheryl at Tanya’s apartment. I was a bit at a loss as to where to find a free wireless connection and an electrical outlet in the same plac, until I hit on the first hostel we’d stayed in. It was huge and I reasoned that the staff probably don’t know who was actually staying there at any given point. And anyway the worst they could do would be to throw me out, in which case I was no farther behind. But they ignored me and I was able to get some work done.

At 6, Sheryl and I met at Tanya’s apartment. We felt weird about just walking in unannounced, so we rang the doorbell. Naturally we interrupted her housemate’s call to Turkey. Sometimes you just can’t win. He was nice enough though, and came down to say hello afterward. We cooked the salmon from the day before and had potatoes, a salad, and bread with tapenade, the first proper cooked meal we’d had since the start of the trip, and a huge indulgence. Felt strange using someone else’s kitchen when they weren’t around, though.

After dinner we were due to meet an old friend of Sheryl’s, Maurice, who she hadn’t seen in many years. I’d heard more than a little about him and was eager to meet him in the flesh, especially since we were to meet at the legendary Crane Bar, famous for its live traditional Irish music. Neither the company nor the music disappointed. Maurice was a very friendly older man with a warm handshake and lively eyes, and I’d be happy to see him again any time. He seemed very stressed out from his job, though, and I do hope thing improve for him soon. The music was an energetic session of the sort I remembered from my last visit to Ireland - a mix of free-form improvisation, traditional favourites and vocal accompaniment, including one side-splitting number by an old fiddler about a man who, after various family remarriages, winds up being his own grandfather. The group was huge and took up half the upper floor of the bar - four or five fiddles, three on the Irish uilleann pipes, a great harp, an accordion and a concertina, guitar, two banjos and probably others I’ve forgotten. The only thing missing was a bodhrán drum, and the thumping of the hands and feet of the patrons more than adequately made up that lack. The energy in the room was fun and happy. I’ve rarely seen a gig elicit so much goodwill from an audience. I spent most of the night chatting with one of the banjo players, a nice young guy up from Cork City for his birthday, who had impeccable musical taste (Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, who he’d seen live in Boston). He tried to convince me I was a closet banjo player, but I wasn’t buying it.

There was only one false note to the evening, and it only deserves to be recorded because it was so much more amusing than it was irritating. There were four of them - one was drunk, one was wasted, the third one was drunker than I’ve ever seen a human being, and the last one was sober and embarrassed. At first I thought they were American from their clothes and manner. They were fortyish, with the desperate over-compensating obnoxiousness of people sensing their approaching middle-age. They were dressed like refugees from the country line-dancing fad of the nineties - denim shirts, cowboy boots, bug silver belt buckles and all. One of the men - the drunker one - stomped his boots in time to the music no matter how slow and gentle and moody the song - or worse, slapped his date’s ass rhythmically like he was herding cows at a hoedown, or whatever it is that these wannabe-western types do in their spare time. There was much eye-rolling among the audience and musicians. Turned out they weren’t American after all, though, but Dubliners. Should have known. We can only hope they dressed up in costume as a cack-handed attempt at ironic humour. But anyway, they didn’t ruin the evening and although we were all certainly laughing at them and not with them, they did provide some unintentional comic relief.

Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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