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Things to Do in Galway City

Attractions, Experiences, Sights and Ideas for the City of the Tribes

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Visiting Galway City? This lively yet smallish town has a number of attractions you will not want to miss. Plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day in Galway City when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while ...

Save Money and Walk

Galway - Walk along the Corrib
© Bernd Biege 2014
Galway is small - at least the centre is and though there are bus tours, I still fail to see the point in taking them if you are fairly fleet of foot. In fact many areas of the city are not accessible for cars, let alone buses, so you'll be missing a lot. Get a map, put on your hiking shoes and off you go.

Explore Medieval Galway

The Browne Doorway on the north-western side of Eyre Square may strike the eye first ... and leave the impression that there is not a lot of medieval Galway about. In fact there is, but it is hidden in plain sight. One example is Lynch's Castle in Shop Street, a fortified town house that acted as home and office for a wealthy merchant (merchant families where the "tribes" that gave Galway the nickname of "City of the Tribes"). You'll be excused if you miss the "castle", it is in use as a bank and you may miss it even when using the ATM. Nearby is St. Nicholas' Church, also a centuries-old building with a lot of history. From here step down to the Corrib and see the (frankly underwhelming) Spanish Arch plus part of the city walls. The most interesting section of these walls is, however, to be found in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre.

Find the Columbus-Connections

It is said that famed (though a bit muddled) explorer Christopher Columbus git the idea to sail westward to India in Galway ... when he saw some strange fruit being washed ashore. There are variations of this legend and it might not be true. An inconspicuous stone monument near the Spanish Arch (where Columbus would more than likely have visited on trade voyages) reminds us of the legend. Or bit of history. Take your own pick ... as you might well do with the tradition that Columbus prayed in St. Nicholas' Church before crossing the Atlantic. Mind you, a prayer in a church dedicated to the patron saint of seafarers would be a good idea in his case.

The Battle of the Buskers

Galway is, at any given time, full of buskers ... or so it seems. Especially during summer dozens of musicians and performance artists line mainly Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street. Some are brilliant. You will also face a number that might be described as artistically challenged in charitable moments and run straight out of any decent town at other times. Charity collectors and street vendors happily add to the mix. At times this ends in pandemonium. Especially on busy and sunny Saturdays ...

Visit the Market

Every Saturday market stalls appear around St. Nicholas Church and provide an eclectic mix of food and crafts with organic and international flavours. From fresh vegetables grown to exacting standards to a bewildering assortment of hats, from South African sausages to fish caught in local waters, from vegetarian food served by a Hare Krishna to esoteric angel paraphernalia via Continental bakery. Some excellent stuff ... have a gawk and have a taste.

Go to Church

Apart from the old and old-fashioned St. Nicholas Church mentioned above, you should also take a walk up the Corrib and then cross over the Salmon Weir Bridge to Galway Cathedral. A Catholic statement in stone ... big, bombastic, Byzantine and in places bizarre. Take the rare depiction of St. Joseph at work (with the Virgin Mary sweeping the floor behind him) on one wall ... then remember that a local bishop left office because he fathered a love-child. Or have a look at the Chapel of Resurrection. Where Irish revolutionary Patrick Pearse and US president John F. Kennedy are portrayed as saints-in-the-making.

Walk to Salthill

From the Spanish Arch, cross the Corrib on Wolfe Tone Bridge, take a left onto Claddagh Quay and then, via Gratton Road, walk to the Seapoint Promenade. Three shades of Galway - the merchant city, the more proletarian Claddagh and then the local resort of Salthill with beaches, restaurants and amusements. Queue multiple renditions of "Galway Girl", a song penned by US country star Steve Earle.

Read Ken Bruen

Okay, here's the thing ... it will change your perception of Galway City forever, but it is worth it. If you like your detectives defective, Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor puts nearly every P.I. in history into the shade. The Galway man tackles local crime with a vengeance if roused, all the while fighting his own demons with the abuse of several substances and dealing out justice in a haphazard style. Shotgun approach, sometimes literally. Though plots are often sloppy to non-existent, the books are a fine read (though the sloppiness extends to the writing in places). Spend a sunny evening in Nimmo's Pier or the Long Walk with Jack Taylor ... then take a taxi back to your lodgings and make sure you are locked in securely.

Moving On ... Beyond Galway City's Boundaries

Enough time spent in Galway City? Then carry on into the countryside nearby:

More Information on Galway City and County and the Province of Connacht

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