The West’s Awake

Spent the weekend in Spiddal in the Gaeltacht visiting Tinson2.

First, a short moan (I’ve been called that before). The Galway road is about fifteen years behind the Sligo road, in terms of development. While the new Moate by-pass looks about ten minutes away from completion, the road from there to Galway is a nightmare of single-lane, double-white-line dreariness where, if one person wants to drive at 51 miles per hour, that’s what we’ll all do. The people of the West deserve better.

The Cruiscin Lán

The Cruiscín Lán

For the last two years, when we went to visit Tinson1, we’ve gone down on the actual Saturday morning and come back that evening. This year we decided to go down on Friday, visit T2 on Saturday and stay over again that night. As soon as we decided that I rang An Crúiscín Lán in Spiddal, since I so much wanted to stay there.

I still remember it from family holidays, although they were probably nearly forty years ago. It wasn’t a hotel then, so we stayed in a B&B somewhere nearby, but there would be traditional Irish music, the food was fabulous, and I still have a vivid picture of moonlight playing across the water of Galway Bay out the back window. The trad music is gone now, but the food is still terrific, and the staff are charming and friendly.

And not just there. On each of the three years now we’ve gone for lunch to Paraicín’s, which is a couple of miles on the Galway side of Spiddal, and again the food there is great, and the view is lovely. There is a large shop just outside the town called Standún, like an Avoca or a Kilkenny design, which is visited by tour buses and which sells all the tweed, báinín, Newbridge & Guinness related stuff that you’d expect, but at a reasonable price that you wouldn’t.

In Spiddal itself there is a little craft centre, with shops selling candles, celtic jewellery, weavings and things

The craft centre

The craft centre

like that. One of the shops, An Spailpín Fánach, sells T-Shirts & hoodies with humourous slogans in Irish, and a new T-shirt this year says “Tabhair dom an cáca milis” on the front, and “Ciúnas, bóthar, cailín, bainne” on the back.

In all of these shops, and in the supermarket, and by the bean an tí, we were made welcome. The weather, while not sunny, was warm, and you found yourself really hoping that, even at this late stage, we get some sort of a summer, as these people deserve to do really well.

Tinson2, by the way, is tanned and happy. He has made new friends, tried new foods and new pursuits, and his Irish has improved enormously.

The people who run these schools, and the women who turn over their homes to the children, are providing a wonderful service, not only to our native language, but also to the youth of our country.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.


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