So, two trips wasted now.
I spent yesterday finding the Garda Immigration Office in Galway. It turns out to be in a mostly unmarked building (there's a tiny plaque among the others) in the Byzantine wastelands of a charmless industrial park in the part of Galway that doesn't end up on the postcards. After at last locating it with a lot of help from Google Maps, I was told that not only were there no forms available to register, but they were "out of numbers."
Silly me, I assumed this meant some kind of glitch with their machine. At least I knew where it was now and could return in the morning, when (surely!) it would be less chaotic.
I got up early, passing through a twilit Eyre Square, where the crows fought a turf battle against the gulls with plenty of commentary on both sides, and repeating the less-than-picturesque ramble out to the industrial park. Returning for the opening hour of 7:30 was early for me, but surely a wise thing to do.
Arriving minutes after opening, I found the line out the door and into the parking lot. I ducked in to grab a form, but after asking several people, was unable to find anyone who was giving out the tickets to officially queue for a place in line. I joined the end of the line and filled out my form, hoping someone would appear soon. More people joined behind me. Everyone looked anxious. Children were already bored with waiting, as apparently many people got here quite early. I was beginning to get a bad feeling about that.
Finally one of the latest folks to join the queue came out with a form in her hand, saying angrily that they would not see anyone that day who did not already have a ticket. We were wasting our time. Yes, that's right. Arriving at the time the office opened meant we were too late to actually see anyone in the office that day (o_O). So the posted hours -- which a hand-written sign declared could be changed "without notice" -- mean nothing because if you are not there before they opened (in fact, well before they opened) they will do nothing for you.
Apparently, this is typical.
I suppose if you're in the midst of a financial crisis and want to discourage immigrants, this is one way to do it. However, I am not costing the Irish nation a penny, and am bringing the prestige of the Fulbright foundation and a lot of money to spend here, but apparently that's not enough. Perhaps a dance of some kind is called for, or a round of drinks...?
And they're not answering their phone. I shall have to write a letter to The Times. Oh, wait...