by Ryan O’Rourke
On Sunday, May 22, we began worshiping in a meeting suite at the Salthill Hotel on the west end of Galway City. A group of American tourists visited with us, with a total attendance of 13.
The west of Ireland has gone from zero congregations (and it’s been many years since there have been any) to two small, start-ups in a matter of weeks, with James Warnock and the two new converts in Sligo and the new church here in Galway.
The two cities of Sligo and Galway are about a 90-minute drive apart. We plan on meeting up with the group in Sligo from time to time for mutual edification.
Galway City has a population of about 85,000, a major city by Irish standards. County Galway is home to over 200,000 people.
Galway City is one of the most historic cities in Ireland, and even in all of Europe. It has been unofficially dubbed, “Ireland’s Cultural Heart,” largely due to the prevalence of the Irish language in and around the city.
Huge numbers of tourists come every year who want a taste of true Irish culture, so the potential to meet people from all over the world on any given day is immense.
The main industries are tourism, technology, and healthcare. Until the recent economic downturn, it was the fastest growing city in Ireland, and the fastest growing city of its size in all of Europe — which can reasonably be expected to resume when the economy stabilizes.
As far as the church, it is slow, challenging work, but the present religious climate is as ideal as it has ever been in the Republic of Ireland. Many Irish have shown dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church in the wake of a multitude of serious scandals.
Editor’s note: Keep up with the Galway work on the congregation’s website or through their Facebook pages for the church and for mission updates. The O’Rourkes’ overseeing church is the West Fayetteville church in Fayetteville, Tenn., also the home of the International Gospel Hour. They landed in Ireland April 20.