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The Cock & Bull

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It turns out that the term ’Cock & Bull’ could very well be referring to chicken and beef, as my brother so matter-of-factly pointed out to me when I asked where this establishment had gotten its name. It’s one of those very late-in-life realizations that changes everything and makes you wonder what else you have missed by not paying attention. He was slightly incredulous that I never made the connection. I just always assumed it was a saucy, cheeky name for a place.

After our ride through the fog-laden roads of Galway, the way the Cock & Bull seemed to rise out of the clouds was almost magical. The cold chill of a December afternoon stopped abruptly at the door, kept at bay by the welcome warmth of several fireplaces roaring with amber-hued flames. A crowd – bigger than I ever expected to find in Galway this early in the afternoon – mulled around the restaurant. Later we’d discover that the people – and the delicious cookies that we were partaking of at the bar – were for a Christmas party that was being held there. Even after our admission that we were not part of the party, the owner still offered us the cookies.

Sitting fireside, our backs to the heat, we chatted with the owner who was helping out behind the bar. Since I wasn’t driving I had a Jack & ginger, as warm and welcoming as the cozy surroundings. This was the perfect Christmas cocktail spot, the kind of place I searched for in dreams, and in the fog-induced haze it almost felt unreal.

It was also the perfect Christmas moment with my brother, the kind that works best when completely unplanned, as our spur-of-the-moment trip here was. Sometimes you simply have to trust the universe to guide you through the fog to the fire.

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