Travel: Ryanair flight to Shannon Airport; Bus to Galway City Centre (€15,50)
Accommodation: Glen Oaks Hotel (first night – €25 per night) & Connemara Coast Hotel ( second night – €95 per person, per night)
Last week, one of my dearest friends got married in Galway. It was an absolutely beautiful service, followed by a cracking meal and one of the best (and most delightfully raucous) parties I’ve ever been to.
Prior to this trip, the only knowledge I had of Galway was from the movie ‘P.S. I Love You’. Back in 2007 I watched this movie, fat and teary eyed, while Gerard Butler sang ‘Galway Girl’ to Hilary Swank and I stuffed another cookie in my cake hole.
You may like to listen to the original version of this song by Steve Earle while you read the rest of the post, just to get you in the mood.
Although I was mainly there to enjoy the wedding (which I did to excess), I did also have some time to explore the area and so have been able to put together a list of my must visit places!
Galway City Centre
- The Latin Quarter
To be honest, I hadn’t heard of a ‘Latin Quarter’ outside of Paris before and I certainly didn’t expect to find one in Galway. But exist it does! This area of the city centre comprises a long, cobbled street which contains the majority of Galway city’s independent shops, restaurants and bars. As well as this you can find the Galway City Museum, St Nicholas’s Church and a shop selling Claddagh rings (something I have wanted to own since Angel gave one to Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – true story).
We had missed the amazing sounding Transe Express operatic procession through the Latin Quarter by a month or so, but it seems to be the case that all major markets, festivals and events take place in this area. If the Latin Quarter was invited to a party, it would certainly be the life and soul of the event.
To find out more about events taking place in the Latin Quarter, you can check out their website here.
- Galway Cathedral
This impressive Roman Catholic Church lies just outside of the main centre, near the Corrib River (which is also nice to see and walk along). Built in 1965, it is known as the youngest of Europe’s great cathedrals. The opening times are between 8am and 6pm and entry is free (aside from a donation).
Unfortunately we arrived too late to enter the cathedral but the structure itself cast an impressive silhouette against the dusky sky. From what I’ve read, there is apparently a very unusual tribute to President Kennedy in the form of a mosaic inside!
- Eyre Square
This square, also known as JFK Memorial Park, marks the city centre of Galway. From what I can gather, the obsession with memorialising JFK in Galway stems from his visit to the city in 1963, which caused much excitement and turned out around 100,000 spectators. In his speech, he was recorded as saying of Galway “If the day was clear enough, and if you went down to the bay and you looked west and your sight was good enough, you would see Boston, Massachusetts”.
Eyre Square has a park, surrounding shops and cafés and seems to be a sort of meeting point for anyone looking to explore the city. It also houses two sculptures; a bust of JFK and a tribute to war hero, Liam Mellows.
This is the seaside area of Galway, which has a 2km long promenade along the sea. It’s a beautiful area to go for a stroll, grab an ice cream or enjoy some fish & chips. If you’ve listened to the song I linked above, you may have heard Salthill Promenade referenced in the lyrics by now!
For those looking for an indoor activity, the promenade is also located not too far from Galway Aquarium and one of many casinos.
I found myself in Connemara as a result of the wedding, and I would just like to thank my friend Chicken Legs (who you may remember from my Paris post) for having her reception at the Connemara Coast Hotel because otherwise I may not have ever seen such a beautiful part of the world.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, the Connemara Coast Hotel is a attractive (but pricey) option. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and if you’re lucky you may get one with a great view of the coast line. Breakfast is generous and included in the price per night. I would highly recommend staying in this hotel while visiting Connemara and now know from experience that it is a fantastic place for a wedding.
The hotel itself backed onto a great view of Galway Bay, which gave you access to another set of stunning coastal walks. Not having a great deal of time to spend here, I feel I barely scratched the surface in terms of scenery, but the hotel does give out a lot of information regarding things to do in the local area. There are numerous walking and driving routes along what is called the Wild Atlantic Way, and you can even plan day trips out to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher. According to my taxi driver, Galway is the only place you can take your rubber dinghy out to sea at all times of the year and not get a battering from the elements. I’m not sure I would agree with him there as it was quite nippy, even in August!
All in all, Galway perfectly encompasses vibrant city life and raw rural life in a package bursting with culture. As my first taste of Ireland it has certainly whet my appetite, and with Dublin being only a 2 hour drive away I can see myself returning for another slice of the pie really soon.
Thanks for reading,