Cork to Galway

There once was a man heading from Cork to Galway.
The journey was not particularly a small way.
But he ventured by train,
Journeying no less sane.
And by and by he walked through his hotel’s hallway.

As the limerick above suggests, I journeyed from Cork to Galway today. What the limerick doesn’t tell you is it sort of, kind of took three trains, changing in Limerick Junction and, of a fashion, again in Limerick Colbert. The limerick didn’t state the Limerick train “changes” directly, but it is, after all, a limerick. So it I implied it.

You probably want to know about “kind of, sort of,” “of a fashion,” and the quotation marks around “changes” above. Whoa. Slow down. It’s coming, but I have some other narrative to get through first. Sheesh, young people today have no patience. I blame it on social media.

Cork

My first train didn’t leave Cork until twenty-five minutes past noon. That gave me time in the morning to wander around Cork some more, visit a sight that my walking tour app said was a must see, but which was closed on Monday because of the unexpected (by me) August Bank Holiday, and another sight rated as a see, but not a must see.

English Market

English Market
English Market

The “must see” is the English Market. I don’t know how it got that name. My observations might be skewed by my limited encounters with locals, but I get the impression that the attitude of the Irish toward the English varies considerably.

Some Irish people seem to be intensely antagonistic toward England, if not necessarily the English people, because of, to put it diplomatically, the bitter history of England’s relationship with Ireland. (Don’t mention Oliver Cromwell or England’s role in exasperating the Great Famine to people here. All these years later, those still seem to be open wounds in Ireland.)

Others appear to be mildly antagonistic toward England, if not necessarily the English people, because of, to put it diplomatically, the bitter history between the two countries. And still others seem to take on an attitude toward English visitors of, “I’ll be nice to you because you’re spending your money here, but that won’t stop me from mocking you with a smile on my face and a laugh in my voice to pretend I’m joking.”

To the best of my knowledge, there are no other variants of their attitudes.

Thankfully, when I say “the English,” I mean people from England, not English-speakers generally. Anglo-Canadians appear to be okay here.

So, considering there’s at least some antagonism toward England, why is it still called the English Market? Like I said, I don’t know.

The English Market is a traditional, indoor municipal market. Its architecture dates from the mid-nineteenth century. Where it differs from some old municipal markets in other European cities is it’s much cleaner and somewhat more prim. Nevertheless, it is still a colourful market, despite the lack of gritty charm.

Along the aisles of the English Market, vendors sell meat, fish, cheese, eggs, chocolates, candies, condiments, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, wine, pantry items, prepared foods, and tchotchkes. There’s also an upstairs café.

Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity Church exterior
Holy Trinity Church exterior

The see, but not must-see attraction is the Holy Trinity Church. It was built in 1832 but had a Gothic-Revival portico added in 1889.

Inside, it has a simple, but attractive vaulted roof made of what I think is a light-coloured wood. If not wood, it’s a light, sand-coloured material of some sort. Dark wood ribs attractively accent the roof.

The church has some nice stained glass windows.

I agree with the walking tour app. It’s nice. If you have some spare time in Cork, go see it, but it’s not a must-see.

Holy Trinity Church exterior
Holy Trinity Church exterior

Walking Around

Cork City Hall reflected on the River Lee
Cork City Hall reflected on the River Lee

I also had time to walk around Cork a wee bit this morning. My walk didn’t take me anywhere I hadn’t been, so I don’t have much to report here. However, I did get a good view of Cork’s city hall with its grand facade reflected on the glassy, almost ripple-free River Lee.

Cork to Galway

Most fellow neurotics likely figured this out long ago, as did I, but for the benefit of neurotics who are neophyte travellers and naïve in these matters, allow me to offer a piece of advice. No matter what the mode or modes of travel—plane, train, bus, boat, or some combination thereof—arrange your travel with as few connections as possible. If you can afford it, do so even it costs a lot more.

Being neurotic, every connection will cause you considerable angst. All of the routes I found from Cork to Galway allegedly involved either at least two connections or travelling back to Dublin to get another train up to Galway. The latter requires only one connection, but consumes I forget how many more hours.

My first train, from Cork to Limerick Junction ran like clockwork. Or, rather, like train work, but a train that runs on time. People who live in or visit Canada and sometimes ride Via Rail may be surprised to learn that many countries allow trains to reach their destinations on time.

The train from Limerick Junction to Limerick Colbert left from the other side of the same platform I arrived at. An announcement on the Cork to Limerick Junction train and an electronic sign on the platform provided that information so I didn’t have to go into the station to find my track. Thus, my fifteen-minute connection time in Limerick Junction was well more than adequate.

The train for Limerick Colbert arrived well before its scheduled departure. I boarded. And I sat there. And sat there. The train left seven minutes late.

During that entire seven-minute period, I involuntarily repeated the mantra, “GODDAMMIT, I’M GOING TO MISS MY CONNECTION! GODDAMMIT, I’M GOING TO MISS MY CONNECTION! …”

The train eventually left the station and hurtled along the tracks. I had a seventeen-minute connection time in Limerick Colbert, but still, I worried.

Limerick Colbert to Galway Connection, sort of

The train arrived at Limerick Colbert, its only stop after Limerick Junction, only a few minutes late. As it pulled into the station, the speakers in the train came to life, “This train will now go to Galway. All passengers for Galway please stay on the train.”

I wasn’t the only passenger confused by this non-connection connection. Before I had a chance to, someone a seat down and across the aisle from me nervously asked one of the train crew who passed through the car if this, indeed, was now the train to Galway. To confirm it was the train she booked, she also asked when it left and how long it took. He assured her, and indirectly me, that it was indeed that train.

So, I made my second connection without ever leaving my seat. That’s a shame because I hoped to use whatever time I had at that station to try to find out if Limerick Colbert is related to Stephen Colbert. I guess I’ll never know.

My new/old train left at the appointed time.

So, as far as the connections were concerned, everything worked out perfectly. But, being a neurotic, until they happened, I still sweated the connections incessantly, almost to the point of connection conniptions. So, I repeat. Do your best to minimize the number of connections you have to make.

Cork to Galway Conclusion

In total, the trip took just over four hours, arriving at 4:27 p.m., which was only twelve minutes after the scheduled arrival time.

The longest of the three (sort of two) train trips was the Limerick Colbert to Galway leg. That took just over two hours, with some stops along the way. We arrived at Ennis, an intermittent stop, at the appointed time, but sat in the station for fifteen minutes, instead of the scheduled three. Hence, the slightly late arrival. (Via Rail considers twelve minutes late to be early, so, being a Canadian, I found that perfectly acceptable.)

I don’t know if there are any express trains between Limerick Colbert and Galway, but if so, this wasn’t it.

The scenery out the window on the way from Cork to Galway varied. Sometimes lushly green; sometimes somewhat more built-up. We passed some rolling hills and a mountain or two, but also a lot of reasonably flat land. Most of the landscape was very attractive, some even beautiful. I’ve already written about such beauty many times in my reporting during this trip to Ireland. So I’ll leave it at that.

Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, I spent more than four hours of the one day I’ve had here with really beautiful weather on trains. As a friend likes to say, my mazel!

Galway

I didn’t have a lot of the day remaining after checking into my hotel, but I had some. I spent a little time taking a look at the Galway Cathedral and wandering around.

Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral exterior
Galway Cathedral exterior

Take a look at the pictures of the Galway Cathedral here. (Galway Cathedral is also known as “Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven & St Nicholas, Galway”, but that’s too much typing for me to repeat. Truth be told, I used cut and paste to get it right the first time. So I’ll go with just Galway Cathedral henceforth.)

With all that stone, Galway Cathedral looks kind of old, doesn’t it? I don’t recognize a style, but, then again, I don’t often recognize church styles. A couple of days ago, I patted myself on the back for finally being able to correctly recognize a Gothic-style church, even if it was a much more recent Gothic Revival church. Galway Cathedral is definitely not what I recognize as Gothic—neither of the Gothic period nor a more recent revival of the style.

It does, however, have nice, old-looking stone walls. They don’t build churches like that anymore, do they? There are also some very attractive stained glass windows and a lovely arched, carved-wood ceiling in the cathedral.

I’m probably just forgetting, but I don’t recall seeing an old church with the altar between the transepts as this one has. I remember them as being closer to the front. But, other than that, it looks like it could date from at least a century or two ago.

Galway Cathedral interior
Galway Cathedral interior

It doesn’t. It seems they do still make churches like that. Galway Cathedral was a twinkle in someone’s eye in 1958. I turned six that year.

The cathedral opened in 1965. I muffed my Bar Mitzvah portion near the end of that year.

According to the tour book I use here, it’s one of the last stone churches built in Europe. According to that book, there’s a lot to see in there.

However, I didn’t have much time to look around. Not long after I entered, people started to stream in for a service. Not wanting to gawk during a service, I left.

On the way out, I saw a sandwich board sign stationed right in front of the entrance. It was positioned such that I couldn’t possibly have missed it on the way in. It pretty much blocked the door. So someone must have put there after I entered.

The sign said, “A liturgy is ongoing. You are welcome to come and pray with us, but we don’t want filthy heathen like yourself gawking among us during the liturgy.” I paraphrased that. It wasn’t quite that harsh.

Walking Around

Eyre Square
Eyre Square

I didn’t have a lot of time to wander around, but I did have some.

The walk from the train station to my hotel is not very interesting for the most part. However, on this beautiful sunny day, people flooded Eyre Square, a very nice grass and trees park near the station.

And a lively pedestrianized area starts right beside my hotel. A banner strung over the entrance to one of the streets labels it “The Latin Quarter.” The quarter houses a lot of restaurants, pubs, and stores. Restaurant tables spill onto the streets in some locations. People filled the area today. The warm, sunny weather probably had something to do with that.

The start of the Latin Quarter beside my hotel
The start of the Latin Quarter beside my hotel

On the other side of my hotel, the River Corrib rushes out to Galway Bay and, from there, into the sea. And when I say the side of the hotel, I mean the very side of the hotel. Only a pedestrian path separates my hotel from the River Corrib. I have a room at the end of a hall. My windows face the river, with no obstructions blocking my view of it.

A short canal runs for a piece parallel to the river. Unless they removed a gate of a lock at some point, the canal could never have been used for navigation. There is only one gate. It forms upper and lower sections of the canal. But it provides no way to lower and raise boats between those sections.

What’s more, the canal is too narrow to accommodate anything much wider than a rowboat.

Also the Latin Quarter
Also the Latin Quarter

And, there’s one bridge so low to the canal that if a small dog dog paddled along the canal it would bang its head on the bottom of the bridge.

And the canal pretty much dead ends as far as any navigation is concerned. The lower canal ends in a small, calm pond immediately behind my hotel. A narrow channel allows water to flow out of that pond and into the river.

My theory is that, at one point, the water flowing through the canal powered a mill. But that is only my theory. I didn’t read or hear that anywhere.

That pedestrian path beside my hotel runs between the river and the canal for the length of the canal. I walked along it. It’s lovely.

I’m sorry that, due to my short time here so far, I don’t have more to say about Galway yet. And you likely won’t get any more information about Galway from me tomorrow either. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, and my passage is honoured, I head to sea. But I do have another full day in Galway the day after that. So I should have more on Galway then.

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