Poems for the Lockdown - the changing face of Galway

Poet Kevin Higgins provides a Galway related poem to chime with these strange times

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.

 

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