Monroe's on a Tuesday night

Craic (pronounced crack) is an Irish word that basically translates to “fun,” “chatter,” and general enjoyment. A common greeting here is “What’s the craic?” and people often say that they are going out for a bit of craic. Galway is full of places to experience some good craic, and we have become fans of one place in particular: Monroe’s Tavern.

Every Tuesday at Monroe’s, a diverse group of people assemble, greet each other, and put on their dancing shoes. A band, consisting of different instrument combinations every week, warms up. Once enough people are present, the music starts and the dancing begins. The type of dancing is called set dancing, a traditional Irish folk dance, which reminds me somewhat of American square dancing. Pairs dance together, spinning, switching dance partners, and stomping feet. The songs are short, but the band plays one right after another, with little to no break. The dancers continue, and over the next two hours, the group grows larger and larger.

After a couple of weeks watching the dancing, we began to recognize faces and pick out some of the regulars. One older gentleman, who must be in his 70s, is the first to arrive and the last to leave every week. He comes prepared with a towel to wipe the sweat from his brow. It appears that he never needs a break – he is constantly in motion. You can tell that he lives for Tuesday night dancing. Another graying gentleman, tall and graceful, has impressed us with his skill. He knows all the correct footwork and his special dancing shoes click and clack along with his enthusiastic steps.

We were lucky to strike up a conversation with one of the regulars a couple of weeks back. Terri, a Galway local and avid dancer, was sitting for a break and a drink of water at the table next to us, when we started to chat. She told us about the step dancing festivals that happen all over the island, about the community of dancers in Galway, and explained to us the different dances as they were happening. Terri now greets us whenever we come through the doors of Monroe’s on Tuesday, and when she takes a break, she comes to chat. Last week, we inquired about some of the regulars on the dance floor, and learned that one was from France, and another from Germany. But on the dance floor, you’d never know it – everybody looks like they’ve been doing Irish step dancing their entire life.

One day maybe we will get up the nerve to join the group and learn a couple moves.  Terri would be thrilled.  If the French and German members can learn, why not a couple of Americans?

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