Rural Galway….?

The car knows when you’re going West. Has an equine sensitivity.

Starts to shake a bit.

Dials on the dash get a bit ropey.

Bermuda Triangle job. Except you’re in rural Galway.

I parked up around 3pm. I was there to meet Noel.

Noel knows everyone, stands at pub doors, smoking and keeping an eye on the traffic. Blue jeans and brown leather jacket.

Patterned shirt and hair greying on the side.

Smokes like he hates it.

Twenty Major man, walks down the street like a cowboy, tips of his hands in his pockets, arrogant swagger of a man that has it all solved.

Self appointed local historian.

‘Place is gone to pure fuck entirely.’ He says.

‘How so, Noel?

‘Sure the bastards have it ruined.’

‘Anyone in particular?’

‘Don’t ya know yourself now. Are you in a rush?’

We were on the way to his house to buy a phone.

I’d seen it on DoneDeal the day before.

‘No.’ I told him. ‘What about you? Working today or anything?’

‘Work? Shtop. The pricks around here can’t afford me.’

‘What do you do?’

‘Carpenter for years. But I’ve a truck licence too. Are you looking to buy anythin else?’

‘Like what?’

‘I know a fella sellin bags of turf.’

‘Don’t need turf.’

‘Let me know if you do. Fuckin funeral this evening too.’

‘Anyone you know?’

‘Some bollix back from America, but sure you have to be seen. Do you want a tip for a horse?’

‘You’re grand, thanks.’

‘This is my place up here.’

We walked up a stairs. On the second floor there was a Chinese, and a hair salon and a place that did Thai Massages. He winked here as he pulled the door back for the next flight of steps.

His place was a rooftop flat.

One of four box like abodes packed together for bachelors, loners and the abandoned elderly that had nowhere else to go.

You could hear the town buzzing below. Cars beeping, people shouting.

In distance was the Church Steeple.

Goalposts of the football pitch.

Smell of MSG from a defective extractor fan.

Eons of linguistic Galway vibrating through the air.

Intense social history carried through the raw cold.

Everything existing at once.

Before, here, after and forever.

A fluid moment of singularity, unique to Ireland’s West.

An unrecognised immunity to dangerous progress.

Noel walked over to the edge, observed the horizon, waved his hand like an emperor and said: ‘Did you ever see such shite?’

‘Doesn’t look too bad.’

‘The whole fuckin place should be burnt to the ground.’

Silence, then he said: ‘Who’s she?’


He pointed down to a girl standing against a car. She was maybe fourteen. Sixteen at best. ‘Her.’ He said.

‘I don’t know, Noel. I don’t live here.’

He waved down. Put on a squeaky voice, like you’d talk to child and said: ‘Hiya….hiya…’

She looked up and frowned. An experienced frown for such cases. Then she looked away.

Noel was taken aback. ‘Little bitch.’ He said. ‘They’re all weird around here anyway. Do you want this fuckin phone or not? I’ve a pint left after me on the counter. C’mon.’


Buy Mick Donnellan’s Novels in Paperback here –

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