As all of her friends and family know Liane adored the city of Galway. A bustling, open, friendly city full of character and heart, nestled on the blue sea and surrounded by some of the prettiest scenery in the country; it fit her like a warm glove. The laid back pace, the warm pubs, the wild water, the gentle people, the walks, the fireside conversations, soft days, those first clinches on hill tops and piers...
We met at a fancy dress party in Galway in December of 2007 and by Easter of the following year we were both pretty smitten. Late nights dancing in the Áras, bike rides on our matching orange bikes, home cooked dinners with friends, aimless wanders through parks, shared meals in Kashmir, gigs in the Roisín, hours in bookshops, too much tea and long mornings and nights cocooned away from the world.
We've visited Galway often since we moved home to Dublin. Most recently spending weekends with Aran & Kate in their beautiful home, inspired by what they'd built together. Whenever we went to visit we'd get off the bus and Liane's whole demeanour would change. You could see the weight visibly leave her shoulders - work left behind, Dublin's rabid pace of life left behind, fresh western air filling her lungs, not a care in the wide world. She practically floated down Shop Street, that beam of a smile spread wide across her pretty face.
I walked down the same street yesterday in tears. Being there without her warm arm (and cold, purple hands!) linked through mine felt strange, foreign, wrong. I felt her with me and yet nowhere to be seen. My throat constricted, my breath quickened and my palms sweated. I tried changing my mood with music, with distraction but resigned myself to letting it out. I sat and stared out to the sea near the Claddagh and bawled.
One thing for it - head to Blackrock and jump off the top ropes into the sea. The ocean will know me and help me. The sea will wash away my pain, at least giving me a momentary respite. The long walk was longer than usual, Xavier Rudd on my earphones and my mind scrolling through a vast catalogue of Liane memories - football in the park with Jonathan, night time wanders on the shore, learning how to hold each other, meeting her friends, sharing my friends... By the time I got there I'd been walking for 40 mins and was sweaty, tearful but excited. The swim was perfect as was the company - a group of weather beaten, world wise Galway men chatting me back to full strength.
I don't think I've ever met anyone so linked to a place without having been reared there. It was like Liane was purpose built for a life in Galway. We often spoke about returning there, inspired by the life/home/family we saw friends building on the west coast. I always thought we'd take the plunge some day, maybe jump into photography and take a career break if we'd a young family. While that won't happen I'll still have part of me rooted in Galway and with it will remain her sweet, gentle Galwegian soul, lying back on the soft grass after a bracing dip with full hearts and unforgettable smiles.