All’s changed in Galway

A Mayo man in Galway
All’s changed in Galway

Edwin McGreal

Back in 2001 when my first year in NUI Galway beckoned, Galway night life was wonderfully exotic. At the time in Castlebar there was two choices come chucking out time in Castlebar pubs – go to the TF or go home.
The TF produced some memorable nights back then so we can’t be too critical but if variety is the spice of life, Castlebar bore a resemblance to Henry Ford’s line about the Model T – ‘you can have it in any colour, so long as it’s black’.
Some might say that’s still the case but, come what may, Galway always offered something different. When we ‘emigrated’ to college in the City of the Tribes a whole new life opened before us.
We had houses to drink in at the start of the night – a very economical choice for students, any amount of lively pubs and then a coterie of night clubs to choose from midweek, all catering to different crowds and, ahem, different levels of sobriety.
CPs was always the top dog then, and still is. If you were out for a big night you wanted to get in there. Trouble was the bouncers there would refuse you admittance if they so much as smelt more than two pints (or cans) off you.
Next on the list came The Alley at the back of the Skeff’. Loads of room to get lost in (handy that) and you always had a decent chance of getting in. The GPO and, when it opened a couple of years later, Boo Radley’s, were closely matched too, although the GPO’s tempting €1 shots of Jagermeister were liable to render the following day redundant.
Cuba was always an alternative choice, with eclectic music on different levels but didn’t always appeal to our crew so more often than not we skipped it. Next door to Cuba was The Venue. Well if you were here it was normally for one reason and one reason only – you had been refused entry pretty much everywhere else. Not good.
And if you had the shame of being refused entry there? Well surely home should have been your next destination. But if all else failed, Church Lane, just off Shop Street would welcome you with open arms.
Once was all I was in there after we couldn’t get one of our crew, who had overindulged on his birthday, in anywhere else. The welcome from the bouncers was soon apparent when we actually got to the bar – there was only about 10 other people there.
Over nine years later and all has changed as the Celtic Tiger hangover wreaks havoc. Cuba is just gone, Church Lane is long gone and only four clubs are open midweek. Just as well I’m hardly ever out these days, older and wiser and all that. Last Wednesday was an exception. We ended up in Club K, the new name for The Venue.
But we didn’t get refused anywhere else this time. It was the drink offers in there that attracted some of our crew.
I just had to tag along.