I chose to live in Galway. There are so many reasons why this is so. But mainly, it is two-fold: the high-energy and vibrant culture and also, the unique serenity of the landscape. Galway is a fresh spring that seems to never run dry.
It wasn’t my work or friends or even romance that brought me to this city. The truth is that I knew absolutely no one on this beautiful, Irish west coast when I made a definite decision to relocate to Galway. It is called following one’s heart.
Originally from Cork, and after a fifteen year stint living abroad, something became immediately apparent to me after a weekend visit to Galway during the past summer. What I saw, or, moreover felt, was that behind its bright, energetic and outer layers that there is also a deeply embedded thread of culture running through the recesses of the land and of the people. Galway is massive fun. It also overflows with a psyche full of heart and soul.
The energy of this city runs about in abundance like a fanta-filled child in hyper mode after mass on a Sunday. And equally, the soil beneath the city feels somewhat sacred, it brings an inner peace, it is grounding. In fact so culturally grounded that I felt that after only a few months of living here, I had so easily moulded into the land that I now have tyre marks on my back.
The people of Galway are unique. It is like there is a giant and bubbling river of energy flowing deeply below the soil that wants to explode into the fresh sea air and released by those that know how, and the people of Galway certainly know how to do that. It made my decision to move here easy.
So I arrived with a jeep full of my stuff. And like anyone else arriving to a new place, I set out to get to know some people beyond the friendliness that the shops, bars and restaurants offer. I always think that when I follow my gut instinct, my heart, and the inner knowingness that a place or situation is right for me, that everything else flows easy. Galway delivered on that front. It is full of outdoor pursuits, and as a keen mountaineer and hill walker it was easy to find some like-minded people to hang out with. But then something else happened.
I came across the Galway Social Club.
I don’t use the word social lightly, I had found a group of great and vibrant men and women into all sorts of social activities, people from all walks of life, full of life, craic, music and fun, yet a decent and down-to-earth bunch. The Galway Social Club doesn’t just state it loves to meet new people, it does.
It was obvious to me that I had to get stuck right in. In fact the social club had only been setup in the summer of 2011 as I arrived, its founder a well-known Galwegian and restaurant manager in town: Geraldine Curran. Geraldine seems to know everyone, and at times I think if she doesn’t know someone then it could be possible that they are not worth knowing – for want of a better phrase.
The club epitomises the energy of the people in Galway, it brings together great people that would not have otherwise met, a fantastic initiative for newcomers to Galway and also for those already here that are up for doing new things. Ventures from ice-skating to adventure days away, drinks nights to dinners, outdoors to pubs, and dancing the nights away in the many and great live-music venues all over town – there is no fear that anyone takes themselves too seriously in this group – in fact most dressed up for the hugely successful 1920’s night. Simply, in two words – great craic!
It also costs nothing to become a member! And obviously with the power of word of mouth – and Galway people love talking – in the space of a short time, the club grew to over 100 members. It is indicative of the heart of Galway, a sociable and friendly people!
And of course with such a massive growth, it needed more organisers, and well, I jumped at the chance to be one. I haven’t looked back.
So I spent fifteen years travelling and working throughout Asia, Europe and America, have lived in many countries, was born and bred in Cork, yet my homecoming and return to Ireland is celebrated in Galway.
I came here for a visit, yet seven months later I am still here. In honesty, I feel that I have finally come home. It is the real Ireland that I have so heartily missed for years.
Filled with heart – and what is it that they say – isn’t it that home is where your heart is.
About Mairéad Whyte:
Mairéad Whyte is an Irish fiction author of two novels: ‘All for Grace’, and ‘The Butterfly – A Sexual and Spiritual Celebration’. Based on true to life events, both novels are quirky and upbeat with a unique, metaphysical take on life. ‘All for Grace’ has had a pre-publication release, yet both novels are due for official publication in 2012 with fantastic reviews from Irish and British journalists.
She is also a business consultant, a personal performance coach and a former director of an international company. Her life-path has integrated her scientific background and her vivacity for life with her vision of spirituality – one that inspires us to be true to our hearts.
A keen mountaineer, and in addition to being one of the Galway Social Club organisers, she is also a volunteer for the new cancer charity, OvaCare.
Mairéad has lived and worked in Switzerland, The Netherlands, England, Sweden, Oman and Ireland. She has presented at many global conferences, has published several newspaper articles and made radio appearances. Born in Cork, she lives in Galway. Mairéad may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org