Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Galway Post 2: Why Does Everyone Hate Signs?

Location: Corrib Village, Galway, Ireland

Date: Monday June 11, 2007

Time: GMT 22:00

Monday 11 June

18.00 Registration

(Siobhan McKenna Theatre, Arts Millennium Building)

18.30 Keynote Introductory Address

Judge Sang-Hyun Song

20.00 Welcome Reception at the Irish Centre for Human Rights

The disaster continueth. I was finally, finally able to check my bags in at Manchester, only to find they hadn't assigned us a gate (and this maybe 45 minutes before wheels up). So I wandered through the departure area, and as luck would have it, was fairly close to Gate 9 when told that was where I should be. I sat there and waited to board...and waited...and waited...and was suddenly jolted out of sleep by a flight attendant hollering "Final Boarding Call for Galway" about three feet from my ear (I'm not was clearly done to wake me without looking like she had to wake me, and for that I am thankful). So I dashed for the plane, and thankfully people were still stowing their baggage and whatnot, so I didn't look the total fool.

I slept the hour to Galway, and then took a cab to Corrib Village, the residence all the attendees were lodged at. It was shockingly hot and humid. The cab driver was chatting with me as we drove, and seemed amused that I would "come all this way for a lecture."

A shot of Corrib Village at night.

Once at Corrib Village, I showered (7 hours on planes, plus 6 sitting in the airport--yuck) and put on some semi-dressy clothes to go to the opening lecture and reception. I took the River Path pointed out on the e-mail we had received, blindly trusting it to take me to my destination...

And thus commenced and hour and change of me wandering around the National University of Galway campus, in humidity which occasionally became mist or even rain. Also, I might add, in mounting panic. I'm hardly known for my ability to be on time, but I would have been, in this case, if not for getting late. I kept telling myself Well, maybe I'll miss the registration, but I'll make the speech and then Well, maybe I'll miss the speech, but I'll make the reception and occasionally I should really just go back to Corrib Village...if I can find it. There was not a single map to be found on campus, nor did I pass anyone who looked likely to be able to direct me (e.g. staff).

The silver lining, and it's not a small one, was that during this desperate wandering, who should I run into (almost literally--Irish sidewalks are narrow) but Emily from highschool! Now I must say, as I caught glimpse of her, I did think That looks like Em...I guess of all the people to run into, she'd be the most likely since I knew that her S.O. Brian was Irish. Nevertheless, I was relatively certain she was studying primateology in Toronto, and knowing that she was doing some sort of complicated mega-degree, I assumed she was still there. But no! It was Emily! Much more surprised to see me than I her, for the reasons listed above (tragically, I do not have a charming Irish S.O.). We exchanged the usual "Oh my God! What are you doing here!" Hilariously, though only in retrospect, she could not tell me where the Arts Millennium Building was, since she only used the gym on campus. But she gave me her number and we arranged to meet later in the week.

Finally, I found a sign (not even a map, mind you, just a sign) that pointed to the Arts Millennium Building, wherein I might find the Siobhan McKenna Theatre and the rest of the conference.

Arts Millennium Building

I scuttled in and picked up my rather snazzy conference package, containing, to my delight, a carry case and a copy of An Introduction to the International Criminal Court, and to my chagrin, a detailed map of campus. I missed all but the very end of Judge Sang-Hyun Song's introductory speech, although I did get to hear him speak later, at the Reception.

Judge Sang-Hyun Song

(from the ICC website)

On the way to the Reception I met up with my "sponsor", as it were, Professor Williams. She'd been worried about my absence, so I was able to explain to her my "adventure" as we walked the few blocks to the Irish Centre for Human Rights. The Centre is, properly speaking, the host of the conference, although this was the only time we spent there, owing to its size. It's a pretty yellow building on a canal, right across from the gorgeous Galway Cathedral.

Irish Centre for Human Rights

Galway Cathedral

And then I walked home, couldn't get into Corrib Village (all the gates were locked) and so had to circumnavigate the entire, massive compound, and had dinner a la vending machine before collapsing into bed.

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