October 12, 2011
The Coast Road out of Galway city along the northern shores of Galway Bay is always a pleasant drive. The R336 passes through Barna, Furbo, and Killough, and on through Spiddal, gradually pulling away from the edge of the bay, going inland towards Costelloe, and eventually on to Leenane and the hills of Connemara.
It’s always a scenic drive, with the family-run Standún store (standun.com)in Spiddal a favorite destination, all just a short drive out of the city.
And so there we were one Monday morning in September, still standing after another wonderful, three-day Irish wedding, driving the coast road even as “the remnants” of Hurricane Katia was buffeting the island with gale-force winds that were just below hurricane force, yet still strong and continuous enough to, um, notice.
We drove off the 336 right down to the beach at Barna, there to join a few other brave (crazy?) souls at the beach’s edge for a bit of a walk into the teeth of the gale. It seemed at first as if we were walking straight in to a scene in Wuthering Heights: The wind, it did blow, but the rain, it never did come down much that day. And the sun? Well, the sun didn’t exactly come out, but it did play hide ‘n seek with the always-moving Irish clouds.
And that walk along the beach parking lot, looking down at the roiling waters of Galway Bay was invigorating, enlivening, and magical.
Who would want to go to Ireland and not experience that little island’s ever-changing weather?
Back in town, the wonderful G Hotel, located just as the Dublin Road (R338) finds its way past Lough Alalia and out to Renmore and beyond, provided the perfect counterpoint to a day in the elements.
“The g” is one of Ireland’s five-star hotels (voted Ireland’s Number 1 hotel by Travel + Leisure magazine,) a modern edifice designed by the renowned milliner and Galway native Philip Treacy. It has just what every tourist-on-the-go seeks: great comfort, airy and spacious rooms, terrific food – and easy, ample, and free parking in a below- ground car park. This month, “the g” was offering moderately priced room rates, and currently, patrons can claim a third complimentary night with a two-night stay.
Last month, the “Eye” cinema next door was drawing large crowds to screenings of an Irish movie that was made in Galway. “The Guard” stars Brendan Gleeson as a local cop whose beat includes the city and the outskirts toward Connemara, with Don Cheadle playing an FBI agent on the hunt for international drug smugglers using Ireland as a transport point. Said to have been “one of the biggest crowd pleasers” at the 2011 Sundance film festival, the cast features Fionnula Flanagan and many other readily recognized Irish actors.
Back in Boston, the movie is still playing at several screens, and much to my delight, it screens almost like a travelogue from my week’s stay in Galway. Several scenes were shot right in “the g” - in a bedroom and in one of the fabulous hotel lounges. Another scene was shot in the adjacent “Eddie Rockets,” an American style hamburger joint right next door. There were even brief shots of the Galway Cathdral and Eyre Square, and several scenes were filmed on and near the R336, the self-same Coast Road that had brought such scenic pleasure during my trip.
For lovers of Galway, there’s still a chance to see the Gleeson film; at press time, it was still playing on five screens, including the Kendall in Cambridge, Patriots Cinema at the Hingham Shipyard, and in West Newton, Lexington, and Danvers.