Halloween in Ireland

Trip Start Sep 06, 2004
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Trip End Nov 23, 2004


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Sunday, October 31, 2004

My last full day in Galway before I headed out on the road--and also Halloween, of course. Katherine loves Halloween, scouring thrift shops for bits and pieces that will become a costume. (She does her regular shopping there, too.) She picked up a pair of white strappy sandals and voila, Marilyn Monroe was complete. I bought striped socks to round out my lazy witch's costume. Then we wandered around with Joe trying to find him a toque for Captain Canada, but alas, no luck. Katherine helped me carry my costume and two bags full of accumulated stuff to her place, where I would store it while travelling. (In case I got a job in Ireland after all. If not, I would come back and sort it--get rid of some, mail some home, and take some with me in a cheap duffle bag.)

Then we got dressed and joined a group of expat North Americans heading out for a Halloween-style night on the town. Katherine's Californian roommate, the talkative Neika, was Minnie Mouse; we also joined some Canadians I didn't know, one Doug/Bob Mackenzie (who donated a kerchief with maple leaves on it to the Captain Canada cause) and a couple who were not dressed up. (Spoilsports!) Captain Canada ended up being quite the sight, with white long johns, red shorts, a red Canada T-shirt, maple leaves drawn on his face, and a flag as a cape. He ended up getting by far the most comments on his attire! He also looked by far the goofiest. Good for you, Joe!

We headed out to see if we could catch some of the parade on Shop Street. (Yes, a Halloween parade. Remember, Halloween in Ireland doesn't involve snow, though it was pretty cold. We'd been warned that Halloween was a big deal--it was! Almost no trick-or-treating, but plenty of illegal firecrackers and this parade business.) By the time we got there, the parade was over (oops), but a huge crowd was milling around, watching some sort of pageants in two outdoor locations separated by a street full of people. We were in the middle of the crowd and could see almost nothing, but we did hear some mysterious cackling and singing. Add this to the glimpses we did see--a huge white balloon (to look like the moon) with a witch dummy dangling from the string, floating high above the pageant; people in fantastical costumes dancing; red light and smoke; a flaming wire frame, in the shape of happy and sad masks, attached to the side of the Church of Ireland church where I'd gone for choir, with the church tower with its clock face looming above. The end result was quite eerie, even though--or perhaps because--we couldn't see much. We imagined a history to this spectacle dating back to Celtic times, pre-Christianity. Most impressive!

After that we went to the King's Head (of course--Joe was with us, after all!). We were just about the only ones there in costume, except for a Pippi and a few witches, so we really stuck out--until the band arrived. They had gone all out. Well, the lead singer hadn't--he was just wearing a witch's hat with braids. But the bassist (I think) was wearing a serial killer mask (Jason/Anthony Hopkins) and stayed in character the whole evening by not speaking and not moving around much, even as he played, which was kind of creepy. The keyboard player was a red and blue superhero in tights, a half-mask (covering the eyes) and a cape. My favourite was the second singer/guitarist, who had turned completely into Beetlejuice. He had the clothes, the hair, grey makeup on every exposed bit of skin, and even a guitar striped to match. He was pretty mesmerizing, as he hammed it up when he played and was pretty scary when he smiled. The band was good, especially since midway through they switched around and let the superhero keyboard player do the lead for a while, singing and playing guitar. (We'd seen them before and they'd done the same thing.)

We ran into another Swapper, Kevin, who with his Irish roommate Mike keeps turning up randomly. Hadn't seen him for a while, though, so naturally he asked me how the job hunt was going. No job. No flat. "What? How hard have you been looking?" Thanks a lot, Kevin. You just reminded me of my incompetence. (Despite what Helena keeps telling me--that I'm looking for hard jobs to get--which may or may not make me feel better.)

I was in that mood when the band stopped playing and we spilled out onto the street. Then we ran into a problem. I'd had enough and wanted to go home. Katherine didn't. But my regular clothes were at her place--and I was leaving Galway the next morning. She didn't want to walk all the way back to her place to let me in; I didn't want to stand around anymore because my feet and back hurt (I'd borrowed boots from her to complete my costume--though I'd forgotten my broom at her place).

Further to that were some emotional pressures. Halloween was a time of year that Katherine loved to spend with her friends back in Regina, making a big deal of the occasion; and I had just given up on living in Galway, and this was my last evening there. Plus, she was annoyed with me for not taking any minimum-wage job that would let me stay, and probably anticipating missing me, her support system in Ireland. I was annoyed with her for applying for a receptionist job at Kinlay House Hostel (which I had also applied for) and asking one of the workers there if he'd put in a good word for her. (Sure, she wanted to leave her job because her bosses treated them like idiots; but if I didn't get a job--and I was still hoping--I'd be going home.) Maybe, also, it was a reflection of my mixed feelings about the nightlife.

Anyway, with all this going on, we got into a fight about me wanting to end the evening and her wanting to stay out. First time I've ever got into a fight with a friend! Of course we should have thought of this before--I knew I wanted to get to bed earlier that night and she knew she wanted to stay out late--but we didn't. Eventually it ended with her giving me the keys to put under the doormat when I'd got my stuff, and we parted in anger.

She headed to a late bar, and I steamed off on the lonely, chilly walk to her place, not looking back. After I got there, I sat on her bed for a while, wishing it hadn't happened and still smarting from Kevin's remark. Eventually I packed up my costume, left it with my bags in her room, and dragged myself back to the hostel, feeling rotten. I e-mailed Arvin and was up late after all--rendering the fight pointless.

And thus ended a long and eventful day.
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