As the evening began to go to bed and the village folk began to hit the village street to enjoy the Friday evening fun and games, my son Cuan pointed out to me the spectacular sight of the last golden rays bouncing off the face of the Galway Bay to gild the sweep of the cliffs underneath Black Head as they headed down towards Moher. A sight to stop you in your tracks.
Away out on the horizon, the Aran Islands appeared to heave themselves higher out of the surfline to relish the view. They always do that on a calm evening, their lighthouses winking at the young moons that garnish our Indian summers. Enchanting.
We enjoyed it for a while before following a crowd into a lively pub in the center of the village. I think it is called Giblin’s. There was music leaking out through the doors anyway.
It was a typical Friday evening in any of the hundreds of pubs along the Wild Atlantic Way which now stretches along all the west coast and draws the visitors in numbers to mingle with the locals. Looking at the crowd over my drink, I figured there was about a 50-50 mix along the bar and around the tables. There were as many ladies as men.
I'd never been in the pub before and I knew nobody present except my son beside me. I rather like that. The barmaids were doing a brisk trade.
Here, unlike many city pubs nowadays, there were more pints of the famous black stuff to be seen than any other drink. That is tradition too. It dies hard and slow. I was certainly relishing mine.
My son was bringing me home from attending the city wedding of my best friend's daughter and giving his father a bed for the night. The atmosphere in the city hotel was so different to the craic in the village pub. Another world entirely.
Some things do change though. In the old days one would not have been able to see the faces of the two young musicians in the corner because of the swirling pipe and tobacco smoke. That is forbidden now.
One other man and myself were lightly using the e-cigs which are still legal inside a bar. All the smokers had to trek outside on to the village pavement for their puffs.
There was constant traffic in that direction and a lot of laughter and slagging out there. People were enjoying their night.
Inside the music never stopped. There was a great drive and verve to it from the two young men equipped with guitars and a lively fiddle. They played a share of the old ballads and come-all-ye material, yes, but the most of the music was what the crowd wanted to hear and that, on this night, was not jigs, reels and hornpipes.
There were the classic pop songs from the past like Simon and Garfunkel stuff, blues and country tunes that set the feet tapping and the hands clapping and, in the end of the evening, especially when they played that rocker about having their mojo working, a few couples even began dancing between the tables.
One of the dancers in the cosmopolitan throng was a young actress star in a popular RTE soap. A good dancer too.
Cuan found out for me that the lively music was being provided for us by two local musicians named Darren Concannon (a common surname hereabouts) and his colleague Brendan Dolan, and they trade under the wry title of A Band Called Wanda. Fair play to them, they got the crowd so lively they refused to let them off the stage.
But here is the twist to the tail of the tale. Facts are that we were spending our evening in the Irish speaking Connemara Gaeltacht in the village of Spiddal. It is a fact that the mother tongue of many in the bar is the soft Connemara Irish, and many of the conversations under the roof that night were Irish. And many of the drinks were called for in Irish of course, a language that is still strong and thriving in the region.
Ten miles out the road two of my grandchildren are being raised in a totally Irish-speaking home and all of them are fluent in the mother tongue even though they are still very young.
That reality and the hearty Celticated atmosphere all round in Spiddal on the night warmed this old heart again for sure.