Galway Film Fleadh and New Knitting Friends

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July 14th 2009
Published: July 14th 2009
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 Galway Film Fleadh  Galway Film Fleadh Galway Film Fleadh

The Film Fleadh (festival) was held at the Town Hall Theater in Galway
Galway Film Fleadh

This past week was the annual Galway Film Fleadh (the Irish word for festival; pronounced something like “flah”). There was an impressive list of films showing: new, old, documentaries, features, shorts, and old classics. Several of our students attended many of the showings. A few were very moved by a documentary they saw called “The Cove” and were delighted at the end of the film when the director appeared to discuss his film and answer questions. “The Cove” is the story of the dolphin trainer responsible for the 1960’s show “Flipper.” He now works to prevent mistreatment of dolphins around the world, and “The Cove” tells about previously unreported abuse of dolphins in a Japanese town. This film ended up winning the Festival prize for Best Feature Documentary.

The only event I attended was a public interview with Anjelica Huston, the actor, on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the festival. She grew up just outside of Galway, still holds an Irish passport, and was a featured guest at the Film Fleadh. The interview was an hour long and was being recorded for a local radio show. Ms. Huston was quite relaxed and charming. She talked about her childhood in the Irish countryside, her relationship with her father (the director, John Huston) and some of the highlights of her acting and directing career. She talked about how she met Jack Nicholson (her partner for 16 years) and what it was like to work with Woody Allen. I realized that I have not seen many of her most important films, including “Prizzi’s Honor” and “The Grifters.” We learned that the year she won the Academy Award for “Prizzi’s Honor” she chose to wear a green dress as a symbol of Ireland!

After the interview portion, she took questions from the audience. Several local people reminded her of shared experiences at school together when they were young. One man stood up and say, “Do you remember me?” She said, “No, I don’t think so,” but when he told her his name, she cried out, “Michael! You were my first crush!” The man turned beet red, but it was clear that he was delighted.

A showing of the 1987 film “The Dead” followed Ms. Huston’s appearance. She starred in this movie, which was the last film directed by her father. It is based on a James Joyce short story from his collection “Dubliners.” Not exactly action-packed. It is a slow and finely nuanced period piece, with a moment of epiphany at the end, but a mournful, rather depressing epiphany, I would have to say. A well-done adaptation of the story.

Knitting Gatherings

On Saturday from 12 - 2 pm, and again Monday night, I walked across the river to the Menlo Park Hotel to attend a gathering of local knitters. I learned about them from the Internet. They call their gatherings Café Create or sometimes Stitch-n-Bitch Galway. I enjoyed their company very much. This particular group has been meeting for just over a month. Their first meeting was on June 13, World Wide Knitting in Public Day, and they’ve been meeting every Saturday since. It was very low-key and friendly, and I got to meet an amazing assortment of women from the local area. I hope they won’t mind if I say just a little about each of them. It was fascinating to hear their stories and learn about what brought all of them together in Galway.

Neen is the organizer of the group. She’s a crocheter, and is getting married in October. She was working on blankets to send to an American charity for children in hospitals. Her future mother-in-law, Liz, also attends. She makes what she calls “fine crochet” baby clothes. They are very delicate and lovely. She and Neen are working on getting together an inventory of items to begin selling at craft fairs, etc. They are both from Galway.

Lisa is from Salem, Oregon and currently lives in Galway with her Irish husband who has a post-doctoral position at NUI-Galway. She has an 18-month old daughter. They lived for a time in Mexico City and another town in Mexico…..(the place where Mimi works)….but the name of the town escapes me now.

Eve is originally from Atlanta, but her husband is from Galway, and they’ve lived here for six years. They have two daughters who are 2 and 4.

Agneska is from Poland, a doctoral candidate in genetics at NUI-Galway. She is an extraordinary knitter. Note photos of her socks with the DNA cable, her tunic, and her lovely shawl.

Alex is also from Poland (there are lots of Eastern Europeans currently living in Ireland). She and her husband have been here for a few years,
Agneska and AlexAgneska and AlexAgneska and Alex

They are two of three women from Poland, living in Galway, who attend this knitting group
and they’ve just opened a craft store out on Bohermore Road in Galway. (I visited her shop today; see below).

Mairin lives in Galway and has two children and one on the way. She grew up on the smallest of the Aran Islands, Inis Oirr. I found this intriguing. Her parents still live there and run the local post office. She went to school on the island until age 13, at which point she went to boarding school near Galway, as there was not a high school on the island in those days. She said there is a high school now. She worked in the film industry, in Connemarra (the area west and north of Galway) and later in Dublin, but stays at home now with her young children. Mairin and Eva, both with young children, became acquainted at first just by bumping into each other at various places around Galway with their children. Mairin is also an excellent knitter. She knit very fast and seemingly without paying any attention to what she was knitting. She was making a hot pink shrug sweater for her daughter Maeve, who is six. She said the girls on Inis Oirr learned to knit and do Aran designs in school. Her mother knits a lot of sweaters that are sold in the tourist shops.

Monday night was a special gathering, to welcome two American women who were traveling through Ireland and had just two days in Galway. I’ve forgotten their names, but they were from just outside Philadelphia. It was their first time in Ireland, and they were with a commercial tour group. It was interesting to hear them talk about the pros and cons of this method of traveling and seeing a country.

I wish I had taken more photos of the projects they were all working on. It was a wide range of things: scarves, sweaters, baby items, and about an even mix between crocheting and knitting. They pronounce crochet with the emphasis on the first syllable.

I can’t say enough about how welcome I was made to feel in this group. Spending this time together knitting and getting to know them will definitely remain one of the highlights of my trip.

Feanor Craft shop

On Saturday, Alex had given me a flyer about her store, so today I walked there. It was about five minutes northeast of the center of town along the Bohermore Road. I hadn’t been in this direction before, and I really liked it, because it didn’t take long to leave behind the touristy feeling of the Shop St. area. This felt like a place where real people live. Alex’s shop is called Feanor, named for a character from the Lord of the Rings who is a gifted craftsman. Alex likes the name because it has a vaguely Irish feel about it, and fans of Tolkien seem to appreciate it. The shop has been open since October 2008. She said business was good during the school year, when many teachers purchase supplies from her. It’s a little quieter now, but she hopes it will pick up. There isn’t really another shop in town selling this kind of product, and she will do special orders which can come in within a few days. She and her husband live above the shop - he has an outside job but also helps with the shop - which they find very convenient.

The shop was well-supplied with an amazing assortment of crafts and craft supplies. Yarn, ribbon, felt, clay, supplies for stenciling, card-making, candle-making, beading, etc. The day I stopped by was a button-making day, and Alex had a tray full of buttons she was making from Fimo clay, getting ready to bake. I had to buy a few cards of these buttons to bring home. I wish her so well in her business venture.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Alex making beadsAlex making beads
Alex making beads

She makes these out of Fimo clay and bakes them in her oven in the flat above the shop.
Agneska's ShawlAgneska's Shawl
Agneska's Shawl

This was a lovely combination of browns, tans, and golds.
Agneska's TunicAgneska's Tunic
Agneska's Tunic

Very 1970's, in a good way.
Unusual house on Bohermore RoadUnusual house on Bohermore Road
Unusual house on Bohermore Road

These windows caught my attention.
Agneska's sock with DNA cableAgneska's sock with DNA cable
Agneska's sock with DNA cable

Agneska is a geneticist and a knitter: how perfect.

14th July 2009

Its great to see your wordings.. thanks for sharing... ___________________ Andrew Entertainment at one stop
14th July 2009

knitting moments
Great to read about your knitting friends. It's wonderful to have a hobby that you can bring with you to another place and then connect with others around. I like those DNA socks - I seem to have seen that cable before - didn't you make Bob something with that cable?
14th July 2009

Wow and wow! What amazing experiences these are! The interview sounds like such a rare opportunity, and the knitting group gave you that personal connection that takes your experience of the locality beyond just sights and surface. Clark did a great job in As You Like It as the lovesick shepherd. Sam was in the light booth. Happy travels!
14th July 2009

hey Sara. I'm very impressed with your blog, and your writing style. Whenever we have traveled, we're so jammed for time that I can't imagine taking the care that you do with your words; you're great with detail - I feel like I'm right there with you, although I'd make a terrible knitter. I love it that your trip soon turns into a family affair - and admire that you're giving your boys some great views of the wider world. I'll send your link onto Kate - she's at Lake George, but I'm sure that she'll find a computer connection at some point. The play was excellent, really. I'm totally amazed that they put it together in only 3 weeks - much as I was amazed at West Side Story last year, which I also loved. Anyway - safe travels to you; I hope that you keep having wonderful experiences. - John
15th July 2009

What a wonderful writer you are..
You made me feel I was in the room with you...Have a great time
16th July 2009

Again you brought me right into the story you are sharing it is remarkable that it happens that way glad to follow you and learn from your experinces and wow ms. huston that is awesome Rhonda

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