The City of Tribes and beyond

I only lived about 10 months in Galway, the 4th largest city in the West of Ireland, but the friends I made there have stood for decades.  I was really looking forward to meeting up with everyone, it’s been too long.  Not that that ever matters with the folks from Galway.  For those of you who know Nepta, Joe and Emma – they are all doing well and loving life in Rosscahill for the past 7 years.  Emma is nearly as tall as I am now and has just started secondary school … time sure is flying.

Nep, Emma and Joe all tucked up to beat the wind and rain on Diamond Hill

Nep, Emma and Joe all tucked up to beat the wind and rain on Diamond Hill

We had a great few days and spent much of our time in Connemara, where we hiked Diamond Hill – a really stunning place.  I love it’s bleakness and harsh surroundings, the brown of the bog at this time of year and oh those pitch black clouds that followed us everywhere!

Halfway up Diamond Hill, with the summit just ahead.

Halfway up Diamond Hill, with the summit just ahead.

The the black clouds rolled in and we had to abandon our hike to the summit.

Then the black clouds rolled in and we had to abandon our hike to the summit.

The view to the islands including Inishbofin and the Connemara coastline - gorgeous.

The view to the islands including Inishbofin and the Connemara coastline – gorgeous.

The starkness of this landscape does not always suit everyone, some find it deeply depressing but for me, it is just beautiful.  The remoteness and solitude is what appeals to me, I love what looks like desolation but in fact is a place brimming with life in it’s quietness.  When I was in Nepal climbing Island Peak in 2011, my friend Tandi took a photo of me walking alone across a boggy plain at about 15,000ft near to the village of Dingboche in the Khumbu Valley.  I could have been in Connemara.  Take a look.

Photo of me at 15,000ft near Dingboche in the Khumbu Valley.  I could have been in Connemara.

Photo of me on that boggy plain near Dingboche in the Khumbu Valley, Nepal.

As we walked back down to the village from Diamond Hill, we came across a memorial garden for boys that died while at St Joseph’s Industrial School – some as young as 5 years old.  Heart wrenching really.  The idea of taking young boys from their parents for innocuous “crimes” like slogging apples, was unbelievable.  What is more unbelieveable, is it only closed in 1974.  Another shameful chapter for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

I also spent time with  long-time friends Aine Hynes, Ita Gilmore and Ger Fahy. We had a great night recalling memories of a holiday to California when we could no more afford it!  Kilmeaden Cheese had an offer at the time – collect the coupons, buy a flight to anywhere in the world and get another flight free.  You can imagine the pounds of cheese we had to buy to fly 5 of us over to the US for the price of 3.  We were young and naive and it was a wonder we survived at all …. driving the wrong way on a 5-lane highway springs to mind.  But clearly it still remains in our happy memories.  25 years has passed since then, Good Lord!  I was sorry to have missed Fiona McGann and meet her for a little something …… next time for sure.

After Galway, I headed to Foxford Co Mayo for a quick visit to my friend Rita Moran.  I had never been to Foxford and realised as I journeyed on, we are blessed to have such good and fertile land in my home province of Munster.  The land around Foxford is boggy and wet wet wet …. and I loved it.  We hiked through a few trails in the Ox Mountains, crisscrossing the River Moy a few times, failing to catch sight of any fishermen, the season is now over for the year.  Interestingly, I learned the founder of the Argentine Navy hails from Foxford – Admiral William Brown.  Ireland is always full of surprises.

I was dying to get a long walk on an Irish beach so Rita drove us out to Enniscrone, Co Sligo.  The Atlantic waves were rolling in as we walked the long beach, I was in my element.  Nothing like seasprayed wind in your face!

I did a bit of cooking on this trip also.  That Bengali Chicken Curry recipe I learned in Kolkata has become a hit and is now a feature in a few households from Australia to New Zealand and now to Ireland.  The world is small for sure.  Two restaurants I went to in Galway require a mention because they were so yum:  Kai Restaurant serves fresh and local food, definitely worth a visit.  Tapas at The Black Cat is also worth a visit … mmmm delish.

I’m back in Cork for the next week and besides spending time with my parents, will also be catching a few films at the Cork Film Festival with my sister Maeve, celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday next Saturday, and then will be on the road again to Derry, Donegal and Dublin.  Looks like I’ll be seeing all parts of the Emerald Isle this trip.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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2 Responses to The City of Tribes and beyond

  1. Renu says:

    Absolutely priceless exoeriences Kates😀

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