Ireland on a Working Visa

July 10th
Up in the morning, I put on my dress shirt and pin-stripe trousers, then trekked out for my 30-minute walk from my new home in Newcastle, into city centre for work at noon. A bit of chill, a bit of mist, but the air was nice, crisp, refreshing – always good for a Monday morning. It was just another Monday of another week in Galway, another week (albeit my last) at work.

So I thought.

Not long after I got to Kinney’s, Sean called me in back for a chat, and a few minutes later handed me my last wages. Looks like I got all dressed up for nothing: I was being let go. Effective immediately.

There’s no need for detail; things weren’t dramatic or explosive. In a nutshell, suffice it to say that Galway is having a slow summer, business- and tourist-wise – though the streets are packed, local businesses haven’t been getting their usual summer rushes – and there’s not as much need for us part-timers. No biggie, really; it’s not like I wasn’t leaving Kinney’s in a few days anyway.

As Sean and I shook hands he said, “Well, Anthony, when you get back to Oregon and are doing your writing about this trip, I hope that we’re something you can say positive things about.”

I smiled. “It is, Sean. Don’t worry. This has been a great job” – thinking about these words, I know I say nothing original, only something true, which can often sound banal – “and all of you have been wonderful to work with. I’ve nothing but positive things to say about working here.”

We chatted a bit more, then I said bye to the girls – J.J. has Mondays off, though – and left my job.

This is fine with me, but I am still in a touch of shock as I write this, since I expected to be working another week. Still, it’s nice to have a week fall free and clear into my lap like this; after all, as I’ve said before, the only reason I was staying in Galway was for the sake of the job.

What I say next, many of you may not care about. Skip to the end if you wish, or read the left column and move on, but I’m going to take a few paragraphs and sing some praises. Besides, Sean told me to feel free to send him anything I write about the shop, so here it is:

To the staff of Kinney’s Jewellers & Goldsmiths:

Thank you for a wonderful two months. Of patience, of teaching, of laughter – and even a few drinks. Thanks for giving a job to a mischievous, headstrong American, who doesn’t like ties or dress shoes, and who came in knowing as little about jewelry as a toucan knows about polar bears. I’ve loved learning, about everything from displays, to gold- and silver-smithing, to the difference between blue topaz and aquamarine (both are blue, but aquamarine is so light and faint that it is almost clear).

I don’t like to single people out, and I’m not going to. Besides, there isn’t much need; as co-workers go, you’re a great group, and you’ve all been good to me. I’m grateful, to all that’s high and low, to have had the chance to work with such good people.

I’m sure I’ll wind up in Ireland again someday, and when I do, I’ll be back around to say hello, and probably to do a little buying. Speaking of, J.J., I will single you out for a moment (I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you bye), in hopes that you’ll still be around next time I’m in town: I was serious when I said I wanted you to make those, ahem, “important” rings (don’t expect an order anytime soon, though!), and I would be honored if you did.

Thank you all, and good luck, good health, and good fortune to you all.

Okay, back to the non-Kinney’s readers: a piece of advice before I close. If you’re in Galway and are looking for some jewelry, for whatever occasion or whim, silver claddagh ring to gold brooch, go to Kinney’s. I know this is a biased and subjective thing to say, but oh well: I’m a biased and subjective person. In any case, I know the staff will be good to you, and whether traveling or at home, we all want to deal with people who are good to us. So go to Kinney’s, in Corbett Court (part of the Eyre Square Centre); Kaytoo, the shop I mainly worked in, is on the ground floor, across from the escalator.

Tell them Anthony sent you.

And the Day Went On
I then drowned my sorrows in e-mail, knocked off four or five long ones before the net cafe staff cut me off and got me into a taxi – and all this at hardly two in the afternoon…

Seriously, though, I checked e-mail at Celtel, located in Eyre Square, across the street from the Tourist Office, in the same building as Kinlay House. With good computers and fast connections, Internet addictions are easily sated at £1 for 10 minutes, £3 for 30, and a fiver for an hour (students get a 20% discount).

Lunched on my usual Monday Govinda’s, and asked Mr. Tohak if, since I’m leaving soon, he would give me his recipes. He said he would, so keep this in mind: once I’m all settled down in Oregon, if you’re traveling through and need to crash out, you not only get a bed, but also a bit o’ that Govinda’s higher taste (if I mess it up too badly, though, don’t worry – we’ll just order a pizza).

And then things got strange. Sitting in Eyre Square, I had just finished eating and was about to leave when a man asked me the time. We got to talking; David is from Armagh (in Northern Ireland), which is said to be “the cathedral capitol of Ireland.” He and his friend Valerie are in town until Thursday, and he’s invited me to go back to Armagh with them. Strange how things work out: I leave my job, and immediately get a travel opportunity.

Things work out even stranger, though. David asked where I was from, and when I told him Virginia, he said he’d lived in Roanoke for a number of years – which is where I was brought up. Funny wee world, isn’t it?

I think I will probably go. I have until July 20 before I go back to Edinburgh, and with so much free time on my hands, well, not even a house full of six women can entice me into staying in Galway any longer than I have to.

Besides, I could spend a few days in Armagh, and then go over to Strabane (still in the North, but near Donegal), to stay with flatmate Clare.

Whatever I decide, you’ll know soon enough – same bat-time, same bat-channel, probably from Armagh, but definitely no longer from Galway!

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