The Summer of Shamrocks, Shenanigans, and Shame Pt. 2: Galway Girl

“The Summer of Shamrocks, Shenanigans, and Shame Pt. 2: Galway Girl”

(Shop Street. I don’t own this image.)

Ryan was tired from an afternoon of passing out CVs all over the city center of Galway. John, Will, and Ryan had set out in different directions, so as not to directly compete with each other. John and Will elected to lie on their CVs, exaggerating their experience in the service industry. Ryan had the most experience of the bunch, but he only briefly worked in the service industry when he was 15 at a driving range. Otherwise, he was a lifeguard, camp counselor, research assistant, and tutor. John’s first and only job was at Extreme Pita. Will had worked at Sobey’s and Tim Horton’s. Conversely, Ryan did not feel the need to lie as he was proud of his CV, and was sure he could woo any interviewer with his go-getter attitude, despite a deficiency serving falafels and double-doubles to the hoi polloi.

He was supposed to meet up with the guys for a pint at 4, but they were not answering his texts. Ryan walked along Shop Street and decided he would start without them. He went inside The King’s Head and ordered a pint of Guinness. He sat down at the bar and took out his copy of Ulysses. By this point, he had managed to get through Episode 1, Telemachus, without much of a hitch. During the winter semester, Ryan wrote on “The Waste Land” for his final paper in a seminar course for which he received an A-. He considered himself reasonably versed in modernism, and was confident he could handle whatever Joyce could throw at him.

“I’ve tried twice to get through that,” said the bartender. “I’ve decided it’s shite.” She had impossibly curly, dirty blonde hair. Underneath her mound of cascading coils, were cat-like green eyes resting atop high cheekbones.

“Oh, yeah?” Ryan answered, finally. “I just started it. First chapter. Pretty good so far.”

“You have a funny accent,” she said.

“Well, I’m not from here. I’m Canadian. I’m from Canada.”

“Really? You sound like you’re from Dublin almost.”

“Actually, I’m from a province called Newfoundland. It has a lot of Irish heritage so our accents are pretty similar.”

“Newfoundland? Never heard of it. Is it anywhere near Vancouver?”

“It’s on the opposite side of the country.”  That made her laugh in embarrassment. When she smiled, her upper-lip exposed a white walled grin, punctuated by two dimples.

“What’s your name?” asked Ryan.

“Danielle. Yours?”


“Well, Ryan, I’ve got to get back to work. Enjoy your shitty book.”

She grabbed a box of empty Heineken bottles and carried them into the back room. Ryan went back Ulysses absent-mindedly. He realized now that he probably should have tried asking her out. He was never very good at being spontaneous, especially when asking out girls. He usually operated on a month long timetable of meeting, Facebook befriending, socializing, dating, and then deal sealing. He could never just ask a girl for her number. Before he could feel too sorry for himself, he received a text. John had met some fellow Canadians at Salt Hill and was now drinking on the beach. Ryan finished his pint and put away Ulysses.

“Taking off?” asked Danielle.

“Yeah, well,” said Ryan. “What time are you off? Are you working late?”

“I’m off at 11.”

“Well, do you want to hang out after that?”

“Sure. Come by around half 12.” Ryan was not sure what that meant but he was not about to ruin this run he was on by asking her to clarify her response. He collected his stuff and made his way towards Salt Hill.

(Salthill. I don’t own this image.)

They’d been in Ireland for about ten days now, and the weather thus far flew totally in the face of all the horror stories of Irish weather. After their three-day bender in Dublin, they came to Galway and spent two days researching apartments out of a hostel. They eventually settled on a townhouse on Raleigh Row. They then spent another two days getting settled. There was a Tesco within walking distance of their house, however in the interest of saving a few euros, Will insisted on taking the bus to Lidl, a discount German supermarket chain. By that time it was the weekend. They partied a little more conservatively this time around as they were now apprehensive about spending money until they had some kind of income.

John and Will and a group of girls were sitting around on the beach drinking cider when Ryan arrived. Salt Hill, especially along the coast, did not jive with Ryan’s preconceived notions of Ireland. It seemed like a poor man’s Jersey Shore; although, it was certainly nice having the option of sand on a day such as this. John passed Ryan a beer out of a cooler. “I got a job at Supermac’s,” John said laughing. (The day after John’s and Will’s Guinness/Jameson baptismal, they had lunch at a Supermac’s. Ryan felt sick and started walking towards the bathroom. A patron saw him and followed. Ryan went into a stall and puked brownish into the bowel. After he came out his pursuer starred at him. Ryan wondered if he was about to be mugged. “Are you Jack Osbourne?” asked the stalker. Ryan ignored him.) Out of the three of them, John was the clear ne’er-do-well, but Supermac’s was an Irish fast-food franchise, and John did have that Extreme Pita pedigree. Ryan was both impressed and amused. Will had an interview with Dunne’s, the Irish equivalent of Walmart, tomorrow. The girls also talked about the job prospects they had procured in the last few days. With zero callbacks, Ryan felt a tinge of anxiety. His pride convinced him to relax. If push comes to shove, he could still apply to the box stores and fast-food chains.

John met one of the girls, Cathy, while he was out CVing. He chatted her up and convinced her to call her roommates and get together at the beach. Will and Ryan were now accessories to the John Lynch show. The girls were from Toronto. They were friends from High School but attended different universities across Ontario. Having never met any Newfoundlanders before, they were excited about this new case study where they could test out all their preconceived notions. “Say something in Newfie,” was the most popular request. Will spoke properly and Ryan had only a slight accent and rarely used slang. John, however, was only happy to oblige. Ryan was always impressed by John’s ability to entertain and charm women without reducing himself to a monkey.

“What does half 12 mean?” asked Ryan.

“It means 11:30,” clarified Will.

Will had actually paid attention during the ridiculous information session their exchange program organized. It was scheduled on the morning of their second day in Dublin so Ryan and John were obscenely hungover. However, attendance was mandatory if you wanted your voucher for two free nights at any hostel. And they wanted that voucher. Afterwards, they relaxed on a touristy bus ride around Dublin whereby the tour guide complained about the Americanization of Ireland: “Oh, and here’s what used to be a bar that was used in Ulysses, but now it’s a lovely little Hard Rock Café, how about that?” They guys remained mute, afraid that people would confuse their Canadian accents for American.

“What’s up?” asked John. “You got a date?”

“Just meeting someone,” answered Ryan. John knew how Ryan liked to play things down and respected this minimalist exchange of information.

The group continued to talk about the differences between Newfoundland and the rest of Canada and how great George Street was. Ryan’s mind drifted and started to think about Danielle. Another of the Ontariennes, Chelsea, spoke to him and Ryan responded with maximum aloofness. Presently, he was oblivious to her obvious attraction and how his indifference raised his stock. Later, in moments of contemplation, Ryan would remark on the disconnect between his demeanor around girls to whom he was attracted and those he was not. He felt that if he could only reverse the relationship, his life would improve drastically. For now, though, he was fixated on Danielle. He did not want to get too drunk and ruin his game, so he left the group to go home, have some supper, and read until half 12.

At Raleigh Row, Ryan made some spaghetti and vegged out on the internet looking at bullshit on Youtube. Two hours after he had left the beach, John brought the whole crew to their house. They put on some music and started drinking in earnest. Will went up to his room to speak to his girlfriend. Ryan also considered seeking refuge in his room but again felt pressured not to bail on John. The girls had cider but John had a six-pack of Bavaria, or 6-for-7s as the guys called it because you could buy 6 pints of Bavaria for the low, low cost 7 euros. Ryan nursed a Bavaria for a few hours and continued his conversation with Chelsea maintaining maximum aloofness.

(the Spanish Arch. I don’t own this image.)

By the time half 12 was near, the gathering had become a full-fledged party. Will was downstairs by this point, having as much fun as he was capable of having so Ryan took his leave without feeling guilty for abandoning John. He made his way towards Shop Street trying to assemble a catalogue of witty things to say. He also contemplated various strategies of how he would seduce her. It was all for naught though because women will always obliterate whatever tactics you have pieced together. Accordingly, when Ryan entered The King’s Head, Danielle was nowhere to be found. He had not anticipated this. It was only a Tuesday night so the bar was not particularly busy. He pulled up a stool at the bar and ordered a Guinness, wondering how long he could sit around and pretend not to feel asscheek-clenchingly awkward. He felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Waiting long?” asked Danielle.

“No, not at all,” answered Ryan. He’d drank a full pint but had no idea how long it took him.

“Let’s get out of here,” suggested Danielle. Ryan followed.

Outside, Ryan tried to keep up with Danielle’s walking and conversation pace. They had not decided upon any plan or location but she seemed to be walking with a purpose. They walked along Shop Street towards the Spanish Arch. They sat on a bench whereupon Danielle took out a joint. “Do you smoke?” she asked, lighting it. John was the official chronic of the group, though Ryan and Will did occasionally participate. They sat, smoked, and got to know each other. Ryan explained how he had just completed a Bachelor’s in English with a minor in History, and was now planning on returning to complete his honors. Danielle was a few years older than Ryan and was a bit of a late bloomer academically. She was presently majoring in Philosophy at the NUI in Galway. They continued their discussion of Joyce, which morphed into a survey of Irish literature. In the end, W.B. Yeats was the only author for which they shared an admiration.

“I’m starving,” announced Danielle. “And I want some cider. Let’s go.”

Ryan wondered where they would manage to find both of these things at 1:00 AM, but he followed her without expressing his doubt. They walked alongside the Corrib until they came upon a late night Chinese take-out. Inside, Danielle advised on what to order. They got chicken balls and noodles and two bottles of Scrumpy Jack, a cheap line of cider with a hornet curiously as the bottle’s emblem. They found a bench near the Corrib and eat and drank and talked some more.

“So what now?” asked Danielle, sitting closer now.

“Do you have any more weed?”

“Yes, back at my apartment.”

“How about we go get some and smoke some more?”


Danielle’s family was from Clifden, a small town in Galway County. She moved to Dublin when she 18 with her boyfriend of the time, and then moved to Galway when she 21 to start school again. She now shared an apartment with a few of her friends. The place was a state but it was in a great location and the rent was cheap. Accordingly, they smoked inside and left things in general disarray. Her roommates were either out or in bed by the time Danielle and Ryan arrived. Ryan sat in the living room while Danielle went to her room to get some pot and her bong. Ryan had not smoked since they arrived in Ireland. He felt pleasantly stoned and sank into the couch without feeling anxious about Danielle’s proximity. They sat on the couch and smoked in silence.

“Are you into physics at all?” asked Danielle. She was again sitting very close.

“I read A Brief History of Time and thought it was pretty cool,” answered Ryan.

“Have you heard about the neutrinos in the Hadron Collidor?” asked Danielle. Ryan had not. She continued: “They think they may have discovered something that travels faster than the speed of light, which pretty much flies in the face of Einstein’s theory of relativity. If it’s true, it opens up the possibility of being able to send matter back and forward in time. I can’t really explain it right now. I’m too stoned. But it’s really cool.”

Ryan leaned over and kissed her. They looked at each other and laughed. “That just happened,” said Danielle. “I’m sorry,” said Ryan. “It’s ok,” said Danielle. They smiled at each other. This time Danielle leaned in and kissed Ryan. She drew out his tongue and sucked on it. Ryan reached across, grabbed her thigh, and pulled her over so that she was straddling him. He pushed his face into her chest and kissed her breasts. She pulled his hair back and kissed neck and bit into his shoulder. Ryan slid his hand into her pants and twirled the fleshy part of his index finger around her clitoris. Danielle leaned backwards until they fell onto the floor, laughing. Ryan pulled off Danielle’s black tights. He bit the inside of her thigh and then started forming the patterns of the Greek alphabet on her vulva (a favorite technique of his). Danielle grabbed his shirt and pulled him up so that he leaning back on his knees. She sat up and pulled off his belt. “I didn’t bring a condom,” explained Ryan. “It’s ok, I’m on he pill,” said Danielle. “And I haven’t been with anyone in a long time,” she continued. “I don’t think that reduces your chances of pregnancy,” answered Ryan confused. “No, I mean for STDs,” she said. They laughed again. As they kissed she stroked his cock. She kept his dick in her hand as she laid back and drew it towards her. Ryan slid inside her and they did their best to not to make too much noise. For some time afterwards, they laid on the floor talking, naked save for their socks.

“It’s getting late,” observed Ryan. “I should call a cab.”

“You can sleep here,” offered Danielle. “I don’t have to work until the afternoon.” They collected their stuff and went upstairs to Danielle’s room. They had sex again and fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s limbs.

(O’Flaherty Castle. I don’t own this image.)

Once Danielle found out Ryan’s family name was O’Flaherty, he began his cultural education. She took him to the location of a famous engraving on the old city wall of Galway, which read, “From the fury of the O’Flahertys, good Lord deliver us.” (The O’Flaherty clan were a prominent seafaring family with castles along the west coast of Ireland. The Normans drove them out of Galway and erected walls to protect the rich merchants.) Danielle was then able to borrow her roommate’s car and they drove out to Oughterard to visit the old O’Flaherty castle. Over the course of these two weeks they had spent almost every night together and whatever time during the day that Danielle was not working. Ryan had only managed to get a few weekend shifts at a bar called Karma, a three-storied dance club with a different DJ on each floor. Ryan was a bar back, changing kegs and transporting booze and Red Bull to the different bars throughout the clubs. At the end of the night, Ryan sat with the staff and had a cider. He had sweated so much during the night that he could feel his arms twitch from the influx of sugar. He also got offered a night’s work as a kitchen porter at a restaurant because their Pole called in sick. Late at night, lying in bed together naked, they spoke for hours about Star Wars, relationships, and Arrested Development. They often spoke about school and their academic interests and ambitions.

“Do you ever do any creative writing?” asked Danielle.

“A little bit. I’m never happy with it,” answered Ryan. “I’m really into formal experimentation. Nabokov is probably my favorite writer. But when I try write something it’s just sentimental bullshit.”

“You have to work with that, though,” explained Danielle. “At first, it’s all corny, trite rubbish. You get past that and you start to find your voice.” Ryan, however, was not eager to read any of Danielle’s material out of fear that it would be vastly superior to his own, and Danielle never pushed it on him.

One night, Ryan told a story about a pregnancy scare he and an ex had when she got her period much later than usual. They spoke about abortion. Ryan was shocked to learn that abortion was indeed illegal in Ireland unless the pregnancy threatened the life of the woman, and that the major news storyline of the past few weeks was about a girl who was trying to leave the country so she may have an abortion in England, but the Irish government would not allow her to leave. She was trying to use the threat of suicide as a loophole and was now being assessed by psychiatrists to see whether it was legitimate. Danielle’s voice then began to quiver as she told Ryan about a pregnancy she had with ex with whom she lived in Dublin. With few options, they decided to keep it. However, before her first trimester was over, Danielle miscarried. While she was not eager to have that child, she was no concerned whether she could have a child at all. She joked it off saying, “I’d rather not have my tits sag for some parasite that’ll never appreciate me until I was dead.” Ryan was more than aware, however, that humor is often the subterfuge we use to express pain. He pulled her in towards him as they fell asleep.

Though he was having a great time with Danielle, the lack of a steady income was starting to stress Ryan. They had been in Ireland for a month now and he was only able to scrounge together a few hours of work while John and Will were both working full-time. John had also been able to start a relationship of his own with Cathy, the girl from Ontario. John came home from a shift at Supermac’s. Ryan was sitting on the couch, trying to make sense of the Oxen and the Sun. By the time Leopold Bloom took over the narration, Ulysses was in full-modernist flight and Ryan was desperately trying to catch up. He was often tempted to look into Sparknotes or Wikipedia to help him, but felt as though this was cheating. John sat down with him and received a call from Cathy.

“Listen,” said John, “Cathy’s Spanish friend, Alicia, from Subway is having a party tonight. Let’s hit that up.”

It was a leaving party for Alicia’s boyfriend, Frank. Frank was an Aussie who had come to the end of his yearlong visa. Ryan and John dropped by Dunne’s to grab some 6-for-7s and set out for the party. Will stayed home to Skype his girlfriend. The party started well, but Alicia had too much to drink and became emotional. She sat in her room and refused to come out. Frank tried to comfort her to no avail; it was plain that Frank, too, was emotional. John rolled some joints from weed that he had bought from Danielle. He and Ryan left the house to get some fresh air and smoke pot. They were gone for only a few minutes when John started receiving angry texts from Cathy. “Apparently Alicia is flipping out,” explained John. “We’d better get back there once we finish this.”

The next morning, John and Ryan sat in the living room nursing their mild hangovers with Fanta and Supermac’s. They had gone to pub after the party dissolved into chaos, and Ryan was feeling guilty about spending money that he could ill-afford at this point. In light of Alicia and Frank’s debacle, Cathy had felt the need to express some of her own anxieties to John, and did not take well to John’s to casual reassurances. That’s when John and Ryan left for the pub and begun anew their relay race of Guinness and Jameson. Presently, however, Cathy was making lamentations through texts that John subsequently ignored.

“She’s driving me nuts,” exclaimed John.

“Are you going to break up with?” asked Ryan.

“Nah,” answered John. “She’s actually best kind. And it’s only for the summer, anyway.” John’s casual remark made evident to Ryan the finitude of this moment. Eventually, he would have to leave Danielle and go home. He would move on and so too would Danielle. The image of Alicia’s cascading mascera and Frank’s exasperated expression stuck in his mind. Ryan then realized that he could not maintain the sort of indifference that John had so perfected.

“How are things with Danielle?” asked John.

“Good,” answered Ryan.

“You guys got pretty close fast, eh?”


“I’ll see you guys later,” said Will as he left for shift at Dunne’s.

Ryan decided at once what he had to do. He got shower, dressed, and walked to the nearest internet café. He printed off a new patch of CVs that included a fake bar named “Durdle’s” where he had supposedly worked for a year. He used his brother-in-law as a reference, assuming they would never bother calling Canada to check a reference. He spent the rest of the day passing out CVs to any place that hired people to do anything: retail, bars, hotels, hostels, gas stations. He then went to The King’s Head to meet Danielle who had an earlier shift than usual. They sat down at a table in the bar.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“I think things might be going too fast,” said Ryan.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know, I’m only here for the summer…”

“Yes, I realize that.”

“…And I’m concerned that maybe we’ll get too attached. I still want to be friends, though.”

“Don’t give me that shite. What did you think this was in the first place? If you were so worried about leaving then why did it take you almost a month to bring it up?”

“I’m sorry. But, we’ve gotten so attached now and I think one of us will end up getting hurt if we let it go on when there’s no logical way that it can work.”

“So what? I accepted at the beginning that it wouldn’t last and that we could have fun while it lasted. I figured you had, too.”

“If you know it won’t last then why bother going through with?”

“Because I’ll regret it more if I didn’t take the risk. Regret is more about missed opportunities than mistakes. I have no delusions that this will last any longer than this summer, so why can’t we just have that? Don’t tell me you don’t feel the same way about me as I do about you. I know you do.”

“I do. I really do. But can’t you see that I’m trying to be reasonable about this?”

“I think you’re being a fucking pussy.” She took her stuff and left. Ryan sat for a while and also left.

After such a long and productive day, Ryan treated himself to sleeping in until noon. He woke and lay in bed debating whether he would spend the day reading Ulysses or if he would do some follow-ups on the CVs he had distributed. His cell phone rang. He dreaded/hoped it was Danielle. If she begged him to take her back he would consider it. It was an unknown number. Ryan was disappointed/excited. It was a hotel he had applied to the day previous; they wanted him to come in for an interview about a job as a night porter. Ryan asked them what time would be convenient for them.

*      *      *

Last week after I published pt 1 I promised I would have the other 2 parts done over the next 7 days. However, pt.2 took a bit longer than I had anticipated. Hopefully, pt.3 won’t take as long…



~ by braddunne on March 25, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Summer of Shamrocks, Shenanigans, and Shame Pt. 2: Galway Girl”

  1. It’s spelled “Lidl” Brad

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