THIS POEM was written in 2002 and features in my first collection of poems, The Boy With No Face, published by Salmon in 2005.
It is about the strange experience of coming back to Galway from London in 1994 and finding the place, which had been, for me, a relatively dull place to grow up during the 1970s and 1980s transformed into the happening and groovy place it became in the 1990s.
Two local pubs are referenced here - PM Kelehan’s, which was opposite the hospital, and Garavan’s on Shop Street. The somewhat rude last line I owe to Nicholas who was the barman in Garavan’s for what seemed like several centuries.
A real Galwegian
Because when you watch the woman
sitting next to you writing an e-mail
in what looks like Korean, or find yourself asking
someone called Candy from Saskatchewan
for two bagels with cream-cheese,
it occasionally still hits you; how it’s
like the blink of an eyelid since, down this street,
the coffee was rotten, and a night out
just a pint of sad Smithwicks eventually
emerging in a withered hand
from a back-street hatch, a barman telling
a complaining Yank how the lock broken
on that toilet door has been that way
for nearly twenty years, and not
a single shit stolen yet.