When Bing Crosby sang about little cottages on Galway Bay, he made the town sound like a quaint little fishing village. That would be nearby Claddagh, birthplace of the famous rings, which got razed and rebuilt after a tuberculosis epidemic. But, no worries: someone has lovingly recreated a typical cottage where folks can sit around a fireplace while singing songs and telling stories. Seriously, not ironically.
Galway City itself, population 79,000 in a county of 225,000, is a university town offering an acclaimed tech education well below Stanford prices. Parts of it are shiny techie brand new. And yet, the center of town is a charming pedestrian mall whose streets angle off from each other. Down toward the Spanish Gate (Spanish and Portuguese sailors were early trade partners) is the adorably cute hole in the wall called The Pie Maker, looking like a relic from another age.
Only it isn’t. The space was carefully designed and compiled, and the owners would love to franchise it, so it’s a good thing the food is excellent. Your Correspondent had a chicken curry pie with mash (as in, potatoes) and mushy peas that weren’t mushy at all. And (an imported) ginger beer. We chatted with the manager and the eponymous Pie Man, and expressed the opinion that a version would be a hit in San Francisco, but the financial risk would be prohibitive. They asked what they could charge for their pies here, and we were thinking the Bi Rite Market, artisanal food crowd and decided the pies without sides could probably go for $18 or more (in Galway, with sides, €13). They were stunned. We would have been too, except we get to do our being stunned at home in San Francisco and knew whereof we spoke.