What kinda person are ya? Are you an auld stock…or a new stock who thinks they’re auld stock…or a new stock who doesn’t knew they’re new stock. Are you a Moons or Brown Thomas person? If I said I’d meet ya at Moons in ten minutes, would I find ya there? Are ya someone who went to UCG or the RTC? And not NUI Galway or GMIT?
If I said I had to dash into O’Gormans to get some pencils and drawing paper, would ya know where I was gone? And if I said I’d be waiting for ya afterwards outside O’Connor TV, would ya lose track of me altogether? Maybe I’d popped upstairs to the Chinese above O’Connors, the one with the fish tank. If you looked up at the mural outside the boarded up shop on Shop Street and saw the woman leaning out of the window there, would you point and ask me who she is? Or give me a yarn about a day ya heard the tourist comment about the authentic smell of sheep? If you thought you’d find me browsing on the landings in Kenny’s, or eating a bakewell tart in Griffins, would you be able to point me out?
Would you find me top of the queue at Paschals, chips in hand? Waiting for the Lions Tower to open. Or killing time looking in the windows of Marian’s down there past there old Garda station. If I told ya that I could get a burger now in the place that used to be the old cathedral, would ya believe me? Or that it was around the corner from a nightclub owned by the guards?
If I said that I was heading to Cuba for me lunch, would you think I was bound for Havana? Did you have your first dinner dates in the Ming Garden, or the Dragon Court or the Royal Villa in Shop Street. If we met for a soup in Lynchs or had to pick up a ham roll or a cake in Lydon House.
Did ya sneak a cheap date loved-up in the steamed-up Couch Potatoes whispering sweet nothings over sweetcorn and tuna on a baked spud? Or did you go for the thick pastried vol au vents and fine pies upstairs in the House of James where you dined among the Stephen Pearce pottery. Did you buy your newspaper or do your Lotto in News At Ten?
Do you still park in Roches? Do you go past Supermacs in Eyre Square half expecting to pop into Woolworths for some groceries, a toy model car or a handful of unnecessary plastic objects?
Did ya get the shift in the Oasis? Or were you happy out in The Warwick, The Castle, Cheers. Or were you more geo-specific in Frankies or The Bentley or Drum or the GPO?
Did ya follow Galway Rovers in Terryland Park? Did ya work above in ‘The Digital?” Did ya order your hardware in Corbetts? Did ya know where Heatons was? Or that it was at Glynn’s corner where Ed Sheeran later strummed his busking guitar? Or that I type this piece now upstairs in the old Norwich Union building?
This week, the Great Southern became The Hardiman, named after a good Mayo covey who made a mark in Galway. I know it was the Meyrick in between, and the Railway Hotel way before it was the Great Southern. A new name, a new brand. Another changing part of Galway, another to be changed like all of those mentioned above, places and brands and names that resonate through the ages, through name changes, through generations.
Galway is ever changing. It is a jigsaw where someone keeps moving the pieces. A city beyond branding. Where people know where ya mean. Where brands are for an era, but where memories live on forever. Welcome to the Square, The Hardiman. Here’s looking at ya, kid.