Saturdays in Galway are a special thing – when its dry.

The three ducks (2 males and a female) are usually waiting outside to be fed. I’ve learned you have to be quick and discrete or else word spreads to the gulls, and mayhem ensues.

Along the prom dogs of all shapes and colors are running towards the ocean. Kids bundled up like marshmallows stumble just behind. And still further back, parents stroll with one eye on child, and the other out to sea.

In town the market is bustling. All the usual suspects are manning their stations. The falafel man with the dreadlocks has the longest line, with good reason. The crepe lady with short dark curly hair comes in a close second. Dozens of people squeeze around each other in the 800 year old market square located in the shadow of the 800 year old St. Nicholas Church. My consumer senses are stimulated by the paintings, pottery, knit clothing, fresh vegetables, pastries, and fish caught in the sea just down the road. But, my citizen senses also come alive at the sight of civil pleasantries exchanged between old friends and new strangers.

Across from the market, the pub patios lining Shop Street are filled with folks sipping pints and exchanging chat. In the background a motley mix of musical instruments provide a fitting soundtrack – the boys on the bongos in front of Eason’s bookstore, fiddlers warming up at Tig Coili, and the smiling man near the Meteor cell phone shop with his bellowing accordion.

My favorite part about Saturdays in Galway, though, is the balloon animal man. He stands right in the heart of town – across from Evergreen’s Health Food Store. A steady stream of children guide their parents to him for a custom made crown, dog, or sword. He’s quick, and good. I’ve never seen one break. As he works, the kids watch his hands intently, with clear looks of anticipation. The parents watch too – perhaps thinking more like their children in that moment than they’d like to admit.

And along Shop Street, for the rest of the day, bright colored balloon objects dot the landscape, giving people something small and different to smile at.

Maybe every town should have a balloon animal man. Surely it couldn’t hurt.

Advertisements