ArticleThe Rain In Spain
…falls mainly on the plain - that is, if you trust Professor Henry Higgins, a co-protagonist in Bernard Shaw's famous play Pygmalion. There is no evidence that Higgins had ever visited Galway, but Dublin-born Shaw who spent the first 20 years of his life in his native Ireland, must have. Consequently, the playwright might have thought of that town when he was creating his most renowned catchphrase - simply because, outside of Spain itself, very few places are as strongly associated with both the country and the weather condition as Galway. While rain is rather ubiquitous throughout Ireland, it's the “Spain” part/Spanish flavour that makes Galway truly unique - so much so that many would consider the town “more Spanish than Irish”. The Spanish language can be heard anywhere in Galway, Its most celebrated structure is known as the “Spanish Arch” (on the picture above), and it's located next to the Latin Quarter.
Quite likely, it was Galway's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean that drew initial attention of Spanish explorers and merchants seeking their way to the New World. As their ships were passing by, the merchants must have got interested in trading opportunities - and a relationship was established that has flourished ever since. Medieval Spaniards would occasionally settle down in Galway and start families, modern ones just come to visit and might stay for a while enjoying “Spain outside of Spain”. It's only fitting that the centerpiece of Galway folklore features a Spaniard and reads like a Shakespearean tragedy.
James Lynch Fitzstephen, elected Mayor in 1493, had a hot-tempered son who turned out to be quite a troublemaker. To solve that problem, the Mayor sent his son on a trade mission to, naturally, Spain. The father hoped that new responsibilities would improve his son's character and teach him prudence and self-restraint - and his hopes seemed justified when the son returned in several months with a signed agreement and a new friend he had made during his stay. It would've been a fairy tale rather than anything Shakespearean - but for the fact that the son had a sweetheart, and his new friend got attracted to her. The fickle lady must have been flattered by the interest she produced in the handsome foreigner, and the rest is history…written in blood as it often is. So far - so rather routine but that's where the real story begins: the young Fitzstephen was tried and sentenced to death but city executioners weren't too keen to, as they thought, anger the Mayor - so, all of them refused to carry out the sentence. To resolve the situation, the Mayor stepped in and hanged his son with his own hands! The window that served as the execution grounds had, in time, become a major tourist attraction…