Saturday, September 1, 2007

Life in Glencolumcille, Part 1

During my time in Gleann, I kept wishing for enough internet access to blog, but alas--the only public computer in the village is dial-up, extremely expensive, and most critical, never available. So I've been saving up thoughts, and I've had several requests to blog about spending most of the summer in rural Donegal, so--here goes!

Gleann Cholm Cille, or Glencolumcille, is a village of roughly 700, according to some census figure or other. I figure this number includes people living in the general area, because there's no way in hell there are as many as 700 in the village--so perhaps this count refers to the parish? Anyway, the village has several fine establishments, and I'll do my best to remember each of them. There aren't many.

1. Pubs: Biddy's, Roarty's (where I mostly hung out), and the Glen Head (where the locals retreat when all the "Gabh Mo Leisceals" arrive for the summer (this, apparently, is what they call us language students--it means "I'm sorry" and supposedly refers to overeager non-local Irish speakers making their way through crowded pubs).

2. Byrne's Food Store, which is about the size of a small convenience store here.

3. The post office and the small shop next to it, which carries only postcards, chocolate, Tayto, and things of that nature.

4. The weird shop, which seems to try to cater to tourists? I never went in, which is surprising, since the jumble of wares in the window was puzzling in its variety--fishing rods, tupperware, plush sheep toys, etc.

5. Some sort of shop that seemed to sell paint, although I never saw it open.

6. Two churches: Catholic and the Church of Ireland

7. The chipper van (usually open only on weekend nights)

Then, away from the village toward the strand but still within walking distance:

1. The laundrette--I believe the proprietor's name is Mary, and she seems to be--like many of the locals--ambivalent toward the students, who really do overrun the village in the summer. I expect she sees the knickers of nearly every person who comes through town, so if I were her, I suppose I would be wary of strangers, too.

2. An Stasiún Tine--the fire station. It's the size of a one-car garage.

3. The John Molloy Woolen Shop, which had for-sale signs up but did open sometime in July for a few weeks. I imagine they have a range of tourist crap, but never went in.

4. Oideas Gael (the school), and its rather basic restaurant, An Cistin ("the kitchen"). Oh, yes, and the bookstore inside, which not surprisingly sells mostly books in Irish, including translations of Harry Potter and other such books!

5. The Folk Village & its shop (more tourist stuff for sale here).

I think that's it for human-made public establishments. And then, of course, is the strand--which leaves me a great opportunity to post a gratuitous picture or two. Bear in mind that the weather seen here is not representative of the weather I, er, enjoyed during most of the summer.

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