Through A Glass Darkly

Yesterday members of Urban Sketchers Galway got together in Neachtain’s for an aul’ afternoon’s sketching. There were about eight of us in total, sitting in various nooks and crannies of the pub. Neachtain’s was one of my very favourite pubs when I was a student in Galway University. I’ll even say it was my favourite. In those days the air in the pub was a thick grey fog of cigarette smoke, and sometimes it was hard to make out your mate ordering a round. That was before the Irish made the enlightened, visionary and unprecedented decision to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. After the ban, all pubs smelt most suspect, but maybe it was the aftermath of cigarette smoke because it’s gone now (or perhaps my nose doesn’t work as well as it used to).

Every square inch of the walls and ceiling in Neachtain’s is covered with artfully-designed posters for plays, festivals and concerts. The walls are lined with shelves of books. Never in all my years of hanging out in Neachtain’s did I read a book from the shelves nor look particularly closely at any of the posters, but they added to the warm and funky atmosphere: this pub was hipster twenty years ahead of the trend. There is usually live music in the evenings, and it used to be traditional – Galway being what it is, it probably hasn’t changed a bit. Homemade soup is served all day, and you can see soup-serving going on at the back. Neachtain’s clientele can be quite hippie, so it was surprising that I didn’t manage to get any white beards into my sketch. Maybe the people I used to hang out with there (okay, get pissed with) have white beards now and I can ask them to pose for me sometime. Neachtain’s is full of rooms, snugs and cosy corners. I sat in one with Dorothy, Josephine and Agnieszka, three of our number. I drew the view from the back room through the doorway into the (tiny) main section, and Dorothy treated me to my first ever gin and tonic in a bowl…I decided to commemorate the occasion by focusing on the pretty drink. It was fun to suggest the glass and ice by deepening the shadows around them.

Gin and tonic. With lemon, lime and ice cubes. Mmmm. Wish I had one in front of me now.


  1. Josie Brookfield

    December 11, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I would love to join you sketching next year. My son and his family live in Portmarnock and we visit him from Southport, England. Husband and I have visited Galway once and only yesterday discussed a trip there next year. Galway has a great vibe, we fondly remembered the hippie atmosphere, power walkers and of course the pubs and wonderful scenery 😊

    • Róisín Curé

      December 11, 2018 at 8:28 am

      Hi Josie, I’m glad you liked Galway. It has a few aspects that are so unique – those walkers as you say, the hippies, the trad music and the lovely seafood. I’ll await you!

  2. Geri Dunne

    December 11, 2018 at 12:01 am

    Like the pen background and watercolor beverage…never think of G and T in cold weather… why I don’t know? It’s a fabulous drink on a hot summer day… save that thought for next summer😂

    • Róisín Curé

      December 11, 2018 at 12:05 am

      Let’s face it Geri, delicious summer or winter, rain or shine. I just don’t have enough of them (slightly worried that this is a complaint, lol) ☺️

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