Galway is a vibrant beach town on the West Coast of Ireland. Galway (said Gailimh in Irish) was ruled by fourteen merchant families in the 15th Century, and the city is full of places and from this time. Being a student town Galway has a modern edge woven into the historical fabric. There are not many typical tourist attractions like museums, but lovely people, charming pubs, cafes and walking streets will fill your days with the experience you came to Ireland for.
When should you go?
Galway is known for its cultural events, which run throughout the year. The Galway International Arts Festival, which runs mid-July, attracts big name artists and a big crowd. If this is your thing keep an eye on www.giaf.ie for details. In October there is also the Barboro International Arts Festival for Children held throughout the city, their website is www.baboro.ie.
What to see and do
Take a day trip to the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, which is about two hours drive down the coastline from Galway. The 8km long UNESCO geopark looks over the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, Loop Head and Kerry’s Blasket Islands. Obrien’s Tower is close to the highest point, and is the best place for panoramic views of the landscape and wildlife. There is a small charge for adults to the visitor centre which contributes to the conservation and safety in the area.
The Spanish Arch was constructed in 1584, and gave access to the quays outside the city wall. It is one of the only parts of the historical wall remaining. The site is a great place to start a walk down along the seaside. The Spanish Arch Hotel is great for a relaxing pint while you sit and watch the day go by.
Beside the Spanish Arch is the Galway City Museum, which is a folk museum full of local and traditional artefacts and archaeology. The museum has many different items on exhibit suitable for everyone’s interests and tastes. It is open 10am to 5pm, it is closed Mondays and Sundays during the colder months (you can check this on their website www.galwaycitymuseum.ie)
St Nicholas Church was completed in 1320 but has is the largest medieval church still used as a place of worship in Ireland. There are many interesting monuments inside the church, including a memorial tablet for Galway’s Jane Eyre, who may have been the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s heroine. Outside the church you can find 2 mermaids, a dragon and a series of gargoyles.
Eating and Drinking
The Galway Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays beside the St Nicholas church. Sustainability is a big priority in the town, which has brought delicious ularity of sustainable food, the market offers locally grown produce, cheese, bread and prepared foods. If you love cheese, the world famous Sheridan’s sells some world famous delicacies. Located in Church Yard St facing St Nicholas Church, it is worth stopping off for a quick snack.
How to Get There
It takes about two hours to drive along a partially tolled motorway to Galway from Dublin. Buses (Bus Éireann, CityLink, GoBus) and trains (Iarnród Éireann) run directly and frequently from Dublin. Galway also has a small commercial airport.