Perched on the edge of Ireland’s west coast lies Galway, the country’s second biggest county. It is full of natural beauty, from dramatic mountains to glistening beaches, and home to some of Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations, including the wild and beautiful landscape of Connemara and the Aran Islands.
For 2020, Galway is the European Capital of Culture and will host the largest and most complex cultural festival ever held on the island of Ireland. This year long event will run from February 1st, 2020 to January 31st, 2021 to coincide with the ancient Celtic calendar. Visitors will see an extraordinary show of events highlighting the richness and diversity of Galway’s culture and its people. There are over 1,900 events happening over the course of 12 months taking place in towns and villages all over the county, but much of the action is centred in Galway city.
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Galway is one of Ireland’s most picturesque cities, and if you love music, culture, and the arts, it is the perfect city for you. Brightly coloured pubs heave with live music and buskers line the streets playing instruments ranging from fiddles, tin whistles and bodhráns. Small speciality shops sell everything from Irish-made fashion to local art and jewellery. Famous for its seafood, the country’s best oysters, world class chefs and Michelin-starred restaurants aplenty, Galway is a foodie’s delight. When you need to walk off all the ‘culinary delights’, the city of full of historical sites for you to explore.
Let’s take a look at some of the many things to see and do in Galway City.
The Latin Quarter is home to many of the city’s quirkiest and best-known shops, pubs, restaurants and hotels, along with historic landmarks, events and attractions. With cobblestones streets regularly lined with street performers and entertainers, it’s always a popular destination for both locals and visitors to the city.
Right in front of the Galway City Museum are the last surviving arches of the Ceann an Bhalla, or Front Wall. Known as the Spanish Arch, this structure dates back to 1584 and was part of the defence running from the old Martin’s Tower to the Corrib River to defend Galway’s quays.
Picturesque and surrounded on all but one side by water, the 16th Century Dunguaire Castle, on the outskirts of the city, is rumoured to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. It was restored in the 1920s by Oliver St John Gogarty, whose guests included literary greats like W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and George Bernard Shaw. In the summer it hosts a “Dunguaire Castle Banquet”, where you can feast on medieval-style fare and be entertained by the poems of Yeats, Gogarty and Shaw.
In the heart of Galway City is Eyre Square, with a rich history dating back to medieval times when markets took place on the green in front of the town gates. It’s a popular gathering place for people, especially on sunny days. Officially known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, a bust of the US President, who was made a Freeman of the city, marks the spot where he made a speech to approximately 100,000 Galway people in 1963, on his last trip before his assassination. The largest shopping mall in the city centre is the Eyre Square Centre which has over 70 shops and includes a mix of local Irish retailers as well as the top high street brands
Southwest of the city centre is the 2km long Salthill Promenade. On a clear day you’ll see the outline of The Burren down in County Clare, while up in the northwest are the peaks of Connemara. The promenade is lined with bars, seafood restaurants and cafes.
St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church
Dating back to 1320, this church is Ireland’s largest medieval parish church hosting regular services. It is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of seafarers and constructed from Galway’s signature grey limestone.
Galway City Museum
Galway City Museum is a free and multifaceted attraction covering Galway’s archaeology, folk history, art and natural history. Along with items such as the “Great Mace” a magnificent piece of ornamental silverware produced in Dublin at the start of the 18th century, there’s also a photography gallery documenting the city from the 1950s onwards, and artefacts like pipes, bottles and tin signs from Galway’s pubs dating to the 19th and 20th centuries.