There was a calm presence as I walked through the doors into the Galway Cathedral. The morning light shone through the stain glass windows as the organ player let the music echo from wall to wall. The stone walls rose high to reveal an intricate wood ceiling. The presence was enough to still my heart. With the sweet smell of wood and old stone I let the resounding sound of the music enter the strings of my heart. I could see the traditions rooted here and what the symbol of the church meant. It was breathtaking.
I had to force myself away from the beautiful sound as the group moved along to the book store. In all the book stores we have been in so far, I have noticed the richness of Irish History and poetry. I took a glance at a book about the Irish famine of 1848-1852. It caused many to move away, and as one guide said, the only reason the Irish went multinational. The descriptions of the famine were horrifying, yet I had seen some of the gloom emanated even in faces on the street today. From the musicians with holes in their sweater to the old lady slowly shuffling along the street. The pain of hard times still looks quite the same. Apart from the brief history I read, we browsed through the book bins for entertainment and enjoyed filling our time with talk of novels.
The rest of the afternoon we had to ourselves. A few of us walked around shop street and enjoyed pub food. I noticed my shopping habits have changed since having lived abroad. I am not phased by tourist items or little trinkets. I want something deeper to have and to give that displays the culture of Ireland. I was lucky enough we took a side trip into a quaint shop that sold Irish sweaters. The older guy working there explained the process of making the sweaters and how the sweater will last for many years. I laughed and replied, it will last long enough for the next time I am in Ireland! I bought a cream sweater that has a large button to the side, so it is Grandma and Mom approved! And it definitely was much needed, because the weather here is quite cold with the wind chill.
In the late evening we ventured out to find Irish music in another pub. The streets were lively with party groups. The music seemed Celtic in nature and created a lovely space for great conversation and sharing of stories. The atmosphere of pubs are homey to me. The different accents bounce around the room, and laughter fills in the space. It is a sense of connection and community that draws me to want to understand this culture that roots itself in loyalty and friendship. I am still loving it here and am enjoying interacting more with the local life. Tomorrow we are on the road again! I suppose a key in traveling around so much is to take in all I can. Not fully rooting, but not completely sprinting past. I am trying to capture every moment, and every conversation that guides my heart to new understanding. Life is moving ever so fast.