Galway is the capital of the west of Ireland. It sits where the river Gaillimh flows out into the Atlantic in the rugged province of Connaught. The estuary has been settled from earliest times but the modern city dates from the establishment of a fort on the Gaillimh (or stony river) in 1124.

The city became a great trading port; its small fishermen and merchants would regularly travel to Portugal, Spain and west into the Mediterranean. This seems odd but remember that until the 19th Century it was faster to travel from Galway to Lisbon than from Galway to Dublin!

In recent times Galway has become a thriving cultural, tourist and University City. It borders the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish speaking region) and is the most bilingual city in Ireland. As a result the city boasts flourishing Irish music, language and dance scenes.


The city itself contains a few interesting historical buildings. Lynch’s castle is the oldest house in Galway. It’s a noble’s town house originally built in the 15th century. Today it’s a branch of AIB Bank, it has a mini-museum inside but its star attraction is a range of delicate carvings on the outside featuring cavorting dragons and gargoyles.

Galway has some notable churches; the Catholic cathedral is a fine example of a large Romanesque church, unusual in Ireland while Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed in St. Nicholas’ before setting sail for America, making Galway the last bit of Europe he saw before arriving in the new world.

Outside the city, on the beachfront lies the village of Claddagh. Here is where the original Claddagh rings were produced which are now used to symbolise love around the world.

Roughly one hours drive to the south lies the beautifully laid out and maintained gardens of Coole Park and the round tower, Thoor Ballylee. The latter was the home of Ireland’s greatest poet W.B. Yeats and has become a site of literary pilgrimage. He was given the tower as a home by his patron Lady Gregory who lived in the more luxurious country house at Coole.

Galway is within easy driving distance of Connemara National Park. This is a site of truly outstanding natural beauty with plants and animals often unique to the place. It contains the Burren, a wonderfully stark natural limestone desert.

As a coastal city Galway offers great chances for sailing, sea fishing and guided boat tours- either looking inland at the magnificent coastline or out to sea to spot the whales that swim down from the north Atlantic. Galway has always been famous for its hooker boats, small, low sitting boats with striking crimson, triangular sails. It’s a treat to be taken out in one of these at sunset.

Galway’s reinvention as a European cultural capital owes a lot to its year-round cycle of festivals and events. You’re hard to please if you can’t find one that interests you: There’s the Galway Arts Festival which showcases theatre, dance and comedy from across Europe, the Galway Film Fleadh shows the best in world avant-garde cinema, the Galway Races are a world famous horse meet and a great excuse for a party, there’s even a Galway Oyster Festival and a Galway Brazilian Festival to make sure you don’t get bored.


Galway is a growing, modern city. As such it offers a range of shopping opportunities familiar to most European cities. Alongside international and national chain shops, supermarkets and fast-food outlets there are many upmarket boutiques selling locally produced designer goods.

Many shops sell tourist memorabilia and local handicrafts. Traditionally made musical instruments (like the bodhran, or hand-held drum) or clothes (warm, woolly Arann jumpers are a must) are popular souvenirs.

The centuries old Galway market is open every Saturday and bank holiday next to St. Nicholas’ Church. It is mainly an arts and craft fair with some traders selling flowers and fresh vegetables. There are a number of stalls selling food of a rather international bent- alongside burgers and baked potatoes you can sample curries, crepes and even freshly prepared sushi.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Galway city is home to around 25,000 students so it has a huge selection of pubs, clubs and bars to choose from, mostly located in the city centre. There is a huge traditional music scene in Galway and most pubs have “Trad Sessions” at least once a week. The clubs are mainly divided between R&B, Cheese and Indie, they usually open until 5am at weekends.

There are plenty of hotels and restaurants in Galway offering modern European cuisine cooked with local ingredients- you just have to decide how much you want to pay. At the higher end of the scale many of the city’s hotels have upmarket restaurants attached. Eyre House in the middle of town specialises in Arann Lobster Thermidor. At the cheaper end there are plenty of family run Italian and Spanish restaurants across the city.

For more traditional Irish food (and even more traditional drink) pubs are definitely the best bet. Hide away from the harsh Atlantic winds in a cosy local pub and drink a pint of Guinness while you wait to sample a local dish like Irish stew, Oysters cooked in stout or baked cabbage and apples. Heaven.

Tourist Information

Galway City Tourist OfficeAras FailteForster StreetGalway City Centre

Tel: +353 091 537700Fax: +353 091 537733Web: www.irelandwest.ieEmail:


Galway airport takes direct flights from Dublin, Belfast City, Cork and most large British airports on both established and budget carriers. International flights from across the world fly to Galway with stopovers at one of the above airports.

The airport is located just 6km from the city centre.

Flights to the Aran Islands operate out of Connemara Regional Airport, 27km west of Galway city.