Galway, city of festivals
After studying in Galway for a whirlwind ten months, Peter Horgan made the trek back to Connacht last week to see if the city retains its charm and joie de vivre. Good news. It does
For so many years Galway has been known as the cultural heart of Ireland, and with its eclectic mix of pubs, street theatre and general bonhomie, it’s hard to dispute.
There is so much to do in the Tribal City that to narrow it down to just words would simply not do it justice. One night in the city is not enough to take in everything it has to offer – both paid and free.
If a night out on the tiles is what you are after, then look no further than Shop Street. With bar after bar leading you down to the iconic Spanish Arch and Claddagh area, it simply is a breathtaking sight to see it thronged with tourists, both indigenous and foreign, spilling in and out of the pubs and restaurants - and all in good nature.
One restaurant to try is Vina Mara, located on Middle Street and well-known for its commitment to excellent, locally produced food. With a selection of menus to choose from, dishes include the very best of Irish beef and the freshest Atlantic fish that Galway can provide.
As for accommodation, the best bet at the moment is the Pillo Hotel, located on the Headford Road, a mere ten minute walk from all of Galway’s bustling city centre. With rooms starting from €75 per room in the four star hotel, it is also the hotel of choice for several visiting rugby teams to take on the might of the province at the sportsgrounds. If it’s good enough for Harlequins then sign me up.
But, what's best about Galway’s charm is the ability to relax, sit back, and do nothing. With sites like Eyre Square, the Spanish Arch and Salthill Prom all within a leisurely stroll. Galway allows you the chance to sit back and allow the world to pass you by.
With such a varied population in the city (thanks to the National University of Ireland, Galway), the opportunity to people watch various generations of academics interspersed with American tourists searching for their roots is as fascinating as any activity money can buy.
For the more daring amongst you the one port of call has to be the Blackrock diving pier just at the end of Salthill Prom. After you’ve kicked the wall (a Galway tradition that I never fully grasped) what better way than to dive into the Atlantic humming a few lines from Luke Kelly’s ‘A song for Ireland’?
Outside of these activities there is also a plethora of theatre and music to choose from, with local bands and international acts forever on the prowl in venues dotted around the city. With the famed Druid Theatre company right on your doorstep also, as well as significant amateur productions with a professional flavour, there is more than ample opportunity to expand the mind and get lost.
Galway plays host to the world famous Volvo Ocean Race, starting this Saturday 30 June in a weeklong festival. For more information on the events surrounding this world-class sailing extravaganza, see http://www.volvooceanracegalway.ie/.