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Galway

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Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) is the county town of County Galway on the west coast of Ireland. It's Ireland's fifth largest city, with a population in 2016 of 79,934, but its historic centre on the east bank of the River Corrib is compact and colourful. It's a party town, with live music and revellers spilling onto its pedestrianised central street, and it's also a base for exploring the scenic surrounding county.

Galway (jointly with Rijeka) is the "European Capital of Culture" for 2020. Most of the summer events are either cancelled or only virtual, but it's still hoped to run the full autumn and winter programmes.

Understand

Galway expanded from a small fishing village from the 13th century, when the Anglo-Normans captured the area and built a fortified city. A charter of 1396 granted power to 14 merchant families, and this elite would later be mocked by Cromwell as "tribes" - hence the nickname "City of the Tribes". This illustrious 14, now immortalised in the names of the city roundabouts, were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'arcy, Deane, Font, ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerritt. All but two were Anglo-Norman rather than Celtic. They're often described as an oligarchy, cartel or cabal, but by medieval standards 14 looks positively diverse. (Imagine the Medici welcoming the Borgias and Sforzas: "Sure and Florence is big enough for all of us, and let's bring in the Joyces, the Skeritts, the Lynchs . . ") They prospered through trade with Spain and Portugal, and by loyalty to the Crown, but that was the reason for Cromwell beseiging and smashing the city. They recovered somewhat during the Restoration, but fell forever with the ousting of the catholic Stuart monarchy. Under the Hanoverian kings, power and fortune throughout Ireland centred on a tight little "Protestant Ascendancy", just to show everyone what a cartel or cabal really looks like. Sea trade also moved away to Dublin and Waterford. Galway stagnated until the 20th century, recovering slowly with independence, and more rapidly later with growth in students and in tourists. It's now a lively, buzzing colourful city that again feels well-connected to the rest of the world.

Get in

By plane

  • Dublin  (DUB IATA) has the widest selection of flights across Europe and UK, then you have a 3-4 hour journey to Galway.
  • Shannon (SNN IATA) has UK and European flights though not as many as Dublin, but is well-connected to the USA with pre-border clearance.
  • Knock (NOC IATA) has few flights, you'd only consider it for a road trip through Connaught and other northwestern areas.

The airports all have car hire, best reserved in advance, and see below for onward public transport to Galway.

The existence of Galway Airport was almost as short as its runway: commercial flights ceased in 2011 and private aviation ceased in 2015.

By train

  • From Dublin Heuston there are ten trains M-Sat, six on Sunday, taking 2 hr 30 min via Athlone. Buy your ticket to or from Dublin city centre not Heuston, as this will include the city tram fare and save a couple of euros over separate tickets.
  • From Limerick Colbert five trains run M-Sat, four on Sunday, via Ennis taking two hours. Limerick has connections from Cork.

By bus

Bus 350 winds along the coast six times a day from Ennis via Lahinch, Cliffs of Moher, DoolinLisdoonvarnaBallyvaughan and Kinvara.
  • From the north Bus 64 runs every two hours from Derry via LetterkennySligo and Knock Airport to Galway.
  • Operators include Bus Éireann, CityLink and GoBus.

1 Galway railway and bus station are side by side in Eyre Square. CityLink and GoBus buses use the coach station 100 m further north. The railway station is officially called Ceannt (Stáisiún Cheannt) for Éamonn Ceannt, executed in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rising.

By car

  • From Dublin take the toll motorway M4 west then M6 to the city's edge, maybe 2 hours depending on traffic.
  • Parking is expensive. If your accommodation doesn't offer any, there's long-stay parking by the cathedral for a flat fee of €5 / day.
  • By thumb: outbound, ask around at your accommodation, there might well be a lift going towards Dublin. Otherwise head for Galway shopping centre: all the major routes branch out from the roundabouts here.

By boat

  • For the Aran Islands, a connecting bus runs to Rossaveal the ferry port 38 km west. Ferries also sail from Doolin in County Clare, linked by an occasional bus from Galway. This means you don't have to go there and back the same way.
  • India, or is it America? As a young merchant Christopher Columbus travelled in Europe before his transatlantic journey, and in 1476 he landed in Bristol then Galway. He may have continued to Iceland; in 1477 he settled in Lisbon. He was intrigued later to hear that two bodies washed up at Galway appeared to be Indian. This reinforced his belief (as he lacked a reliable internet travel guide such as Wikivoyage) that he could reach the Indies by sailing west.

Get around

  • Walk: Central Galway is easily accessible on foot, and Salthill is a pleasant 30 minute walk from the centre, down the Prom to Blackrock.
  • Taxis are convenient, although they can be expensive. There are taxi ranks in Eyre Square and Bridge Street.
  • Try not to bring a car into town, it's congested and has limited, expensive parking. Central parking lots include Dyke Road and at the Cathedral.

By bus

Bus Éireann operate a frequent city bus network in Galway, consisting of seven routes:

  • Route 401 provides a cross-city service from Salthill in the southwest to Parkmore Industrial Estate in the northeast, every 20 minutes Monday to Sunday.
  • Route 402 provides a cross-city service from Shangort Road in the west to Merlin Park University Hospital in the east, every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 60 minutes on Sundays.
  • Route 404 provides a cross-city service from Newcastle in the northwest to Oranmore in the southeast, every 30 minutes Monday to Sunday.
  • Route 405 provides a cross-city service from Rahoon in the west to Ballybane Industrial Estate in the northeast, every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 40 minutes on Sundays.
  • Route 407 provides a service from Eyre Square in the city centre to Bóthar an Chóiste in the north, every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 60 minutes on Sundays.
  • Route 409 provides a frequent service from Eyre Square in the city centre to Parkmore Industrial Estate in the northeast, every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday, and every 15 minutes on Sundays.
  • Route 424 provides a service from Eyre Square in the city centre to Barna in the west, 12 times per day Monday to Friday, 11 times on Saturdays and 5 times on Sundays.

City Direct also operate a frequent bus network on the western side of the city, consisting of four routes:

  • Route 410 provides a service from Cappagh Road in the west via Salthill to Eyre Square in the city centre, every 60 minutes Monday to Saturday, with no service on Sundays.
  • Route 411 provides a service from Cappagh Road in the west via Westside to Eyre Square in the city centre, every 30 minutes Monday to Sunday.
  • Route 412 provides a service from Cappagh Road in the west via Gateway Retail Park to Eyre Square in the city centre, every 30 minutes Monday to Friday, with no service on Saturdays or Sundays.
  • Route 414 provides a service from Barna in the west via Lombard Street to Eyre Square in the city centre, twice per day Monday to Friday, with no service on Saturdays or Sundays.

A map of the combined city bus network (Bus Éireann and City Direct) is available here. All routes connect with each other at Eyre Square in the city centre. Note that this map is a little out of date and route 403 has since become an extension of route 401, which now runs west-east across the city.

Cash fares on the Bus Éireann network are €2.40-€2.80 adult and €1.40-€1.70 child, while if paying with a TFI Leap Card are €1.68-€1.96 adult and €0.98-€1.19 child. On TFI Leap Card, 24 hour, 7 day and monthly tickets are also available.

Cash fares on the City Direct network are €2.50-€3.50 adult and €1.00-€1.50 child, while if paying with a TFI Leap Card are €2.00 adult and €1.40 child. Weekly and monthly tickets are also available.

See

  • 1 Eyre Square is the place to begin exploring the city, as it's the transport hub and with a cluster of hotels and eating places. From 2004 to 2006 it was a dismal crater as an expensive redevelopment project flopped, but now it's an attractive green space, with a pedestrianised shopping mall just south. Artwork includes the "Galway Hooker" (fountain styled like a traditional fishing boat), the Browne doorway (from the house of one of the ruling families), and a bust of JF Kennedy who visited in 1963. The square is officially named after JFK but this never stuck, and it's always called Eyre Square after the mayor who presented this plot of land to the city in 1710.
  • The historic spine of the city leads from Eyre Square southwest to the river, called William Street then Shop Street then High Street then Quay Street. It's all pedestrianised, an agreeable stroll from park to pub to pub to eating place to pub. At the top of Shop Street, 2 Lynch's Castle is a fine medieval town house, once home to the Lynch dynasty. But it's nowadays a branch of Allied Irish Banks: you're welcome to look in during opening hours but there's not much to see.
  • 3 Legend of the Claddagh Ring, 26 Shop Street, ☏ +353 91 123 456, ✉ info@claddaghlegend.com. M-Sa 09:00-18:00, Su 11:00-18:00. Called a museum but mostly a marketing exercise. The Claddagh Ring is a style of mani in fede finger ring: two hands join to clasp a heart. It's been a design for wedding or engagement rings since medieval times but became a Galway tradition from 1700, when the jewellers worked near an Cladach, the city shore. It became popular from the late 20th century, and legends were embellished around it as ingeniously as its designs. This museum hews to the "Joyce" legend, after the man captured by Algerian corsairs and learning the design in captivity; he returned to Galway where of course his sweetheart had remained true . . . Aah, bless. The heart is often surmounted by a crown, or isn't, depending on your allegiances in that matter. Free (no, not the rings though).
  • 4 Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church, Lombard Street H91 PY20, ☏ +353 87 237 5789. Daily Mar-Dec 09:00-19:00, Jan Feb 09:00-17:00. A collegiate church doesn't have a resident priest, but members of a seminary (here, a College of Vicars) take turns. St Nicholas is the largest medieval church still in everyday use in Ireland. It was founded in 1320 and enlarged over the following two centuries. It's dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra (circa 300 AD), patron saint of seafarers, and the story of Columbus worshipping here is credible. There are large tombs of the Lynch family, and a plaque at the Lynch memorial window claims to be the spot where 15th C mayor James hanged his own son Walter: for killing a Spanish visitor, so goes the tale, but what was that really all about? In 2002 St Nick's conducted the first blessing of a same-sex partnership in an Irish church, but the Bishop prohibited any such unbiblical goings-on in future. However, although the church is Protestant (which it obviously wasn't in Columbus' day), in 2005 it was used by an RC congregation while their own St Augustine church was refurbished, and it's also used for worship by the Romanian, Russian Orthodox and the Mar Thoma Syrian congregations. When in Rome, as they say . . . Donation.
  • 5 Hall of the Red Earl (Halla an Iarla Rua), Druid Lane. 24 hours. The Hall is the earliest medieval structure to be seen within the walls of the city. It was built by the de Burgo family in the 13th century and was the main municipal building, acting as town hall, court house and tax collection office. But a fragment is all that remains, protected behind glass, and it won't take a minute to see. The modern building adjoining is the base of Galway Civic Trust, and their guided walks through the city (see "Do") start here. Free.
  • 6 Spanish Arch: medieval Galway had city walls, which in 1584 were extended to protect the quays at the river outlet. This extension, known as "the head of the walls" (ceann an bhalla), is nowadays almost the only remnant of those walls. In the 18th century the quays were extended, and two arches were cut in the walls to improve street access to the quays. They were probably originally known as the "Eyre Arches", but Galway was Ireland's main port for trade with Spain and Portugal. In 1755 the Lisbon Tsunami wrecked the arches, but one was later re-opened, so they became known as the Spanish Arch and the Blind Arch. It's a pleasant area to sit or stroll.
  • Galway City Museum, Spanish Parade H91 CX5P (at Spanish Arch), ☏ +353 91 532 460. Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00 plus Apr-Sept Su 12:00-17:00. Three floors of galleries have seven long-term exhibitions on Galway's archaeology, history and links to the sea. Two halls have rotating exhibitions. Free.
  • 7 Nora Barnacle's house is at 8 Bowling Green. Nora (1884-1951) grew up in Galway and came to live here with her mother who'd separated from the drunkard father. Her boyfriends had a habit of dying, so she left for Dublin where in 1904 she met James Joyce, and "knew him at once for just another Dublin jackeen chatting up a country girl". Soon she would have cause to bemoan his drinking, hanging about with artistic ne'er-do-wells, spendthrift ways, obscure nonsensical writing style, and his demands for English puddings. They lived mostly in Trieste and Paris then Zurich, where James died and Nora lived out her own final years. The house in Galway is a small museum of Joyce memorabilia (including letters, but not the hotties) but is closed in 2020.
  • Galway Cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas), Gaol Road H91 A780. Daily 08:30-18:30. Roman Catholic cathedral built 1958-1965 on the site of an old prison - it's an imposing limestone building in a mixture of retro-classical styles, which some detest. The dome, pillars and round arches are renaissance, while a Romanesque portico dominates the main façade. Michael Browne (Bishop 1937-1976) published an account of the preparation, design, building work and layout. The organ was re-conditioned in 2007, and recitals show off the acoustics. Regular mass, with one Sunday mass in Gaelic. Donation.
  • River Corrib flows for 6 km south from Lough Corrib to enter Galway Bay. In 1178 the friars of Clairegalway cut a new channel out of the lough, east of the original outflow, and this became the main course of the river. It passes the ruin of Menlo Castle to reach the northwest edge of the city at a salmon weir: watch them swim upriver in early summer. The last km of river is very fast, great for driving waterwheels but not navigable, so the 9 Eglinton Canal was cut in the 19th century, with swing bridges, locks, and side-races for mills. The swing bridges have been replaced by fixed bridges so the canal is no longer navigable except by kayak.
  • 10 University Quad. Daily 08:00-21:00. This was the original quadrangle of the college that opened in 1849 and became one of the three colleges of Queens University of Ireland (the others being Belfast and Cork). Since 1997 it's been known as the National University of Ireland Galway. The Quad buildings are in mock Tudor Gothic style modelled on Oxford's Christ Church, so their aspirations are clear. They're nowadays the admin offices of a huge modern campus stretching from the river and canal to Newcastle Road, then continuing west of that as University Hospital. Free.
  • The medieval fort and walled city of Galway stood east of the river, controlled by the Anglo-Normans, with "No damned Irish here!" signs at its gates. The Irish were kept in their place in a village just west of the river outlet, An Cladach, the shore. Jewellers also worked there, hence the name of the ring. Nothing remains of that village so the present Claddagh neighbourhood is modern.
  • 11 The Promenade is the main shoreline attraction, stretching for 2 km into Salthill. Traditionally you turned around once you'd kicked the wall at the two-level diving platform at the junction of Threadneedle Rd. Lots of pubs and B&Bs along here. It's long been hoped to extend the promenade west to Silverstrand, and to reinforce the crumbling coast against sea erosion. By 2015 this plan had reached design stage, but with no prospect of the funding that would enable it to go to tender, and it's all gone very quiet since then. So you can pick your own way along the headland west of Salthill but there's no paved prom.
  • 12 Galway Atlantaquaria, Seapoint Promenade, Salthill H91 T2FD, ☏ +353 91 585 100, ✉ info@nationalaquarium.ie. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. Large aquarium that majors on local marine life, so you will see sharks, but they're Irish sharks and proud of it. Staff display the various beasties: care to cuddle a huge crab? Adult €13, child €8.50.
  • 13 Mutton Island is connected to the mainland at Claddagh by a one-km causeway. (Don't confuse it with Mutton Island off Quilty in County Clare.) It's popular for wedding photos taking in the lighthouse foreground and cityscape background, while artfully avoiding the sewage plant.
  • Castles: the city's original castle was a Norman motte-and-bailey, but it was smashed, burnt, raided for masonry and disappeared in the 13th century. It was only rediscovered in 2018 beneath Quay Street: it's hoped to put parts on display as was done for the Hall of the Red Earl. Remnants of smaller castles dot the area although it's mostly a case of "hunt the stump". They include:
    • 14 Merlin or Doughiskey is a turret in wooded parkland 3 km east of city centre.
    • 15 Menlo is the ivy-shrouded stump you see from the river. By road it's a bit of a scramble over a padlocked gate and down an unsigned track.
    • 16 Castlegar means "short castle", which may refer to its structure or because it was used as a short-stay annexe by Menlo Castle. The name's even more accurate nowadays.
    • 17 Ballindooley is a turret along Headford Road N84 near Castlegar. Slow down for a look but it's hardly worth stopping.
    • 18 Killeen is a 15th century towerhouse that has been restored and is now a private residence.
    • 19 Cloonacauneen is a restored 15th century towerhouse that's now a restaurant, often booked for weddings.
    • Ballybrit is a turret just south of the racecourse, so if you've brought your racing binoculars you can save trudging across the field.

Do

  • For current event listings check This is Galway, or the Galway Advertiser online or in print (free) on Thursdays.
  • Walk: Stroll along the banks of the River Corrib and the Eglington Canal, or along the promenade to the diving platform at Salthill, or out along the causeway to Mutton Island.
Guided walks: Galway Civic Trust have 90 min walks May-Sept Tu and Th at 14:00, starting from Hall of the Red Earl and finishing at Eyre Square. Donations welcome, no booking. Galway Tours run private walking tours of 90 min, minimum group of six from €80. They don't offer the kind of tours where individuals can just rock up.
  • 1 Town Hall Theatre, 1 Courthouse Square H91 VF21, ☏ +353 91 569 777 (Box Office). The THT features plays, music, dance, comedy and of course panto. They run three venues: the main auditorium is only 400 seats, so it's cosy and suits many performances but is a bit small for grand occasions. Studio Space also in the square is 52 seats. Black Box, 500 m north on Dykes Road, has 600 seats and is more suitable for a rock concert.
  • Druid Theatre is a small independent theatre at Flood St towards the Quays.
  • 2 Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, 19 An tSráid Láir (Middle St), Gaillimh H91 RX76, ☏ +353 91 562 024. Box Office Tu-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 12:00-17:00. This is an Irish language theatre, which has produced some of Ireland's most celebrated actors.
  • 3 River cruises, Waterside, Galway, ☏ +353 91 563 846. May-Sept daily 12:30 and 14:30, plus July Aug Su-F 16:30. Corrib Princess is a 157-seat river boat that sails from Woodhead Quay, east bank of the river just above the weir, for 90 min cruises up the Corrib into the lough. Adult €17.
  • Kayaking is a choice of gentle paddles on the upper river and lough, sea kayaking, and white water on the lower Corrib right in the heart of the city. The white water flow depends on recent rainfall and the status of the locks above. There's a standing wave at O'Brien's Bridge to test your sense of humour, and the Eglinton Canal rejoins the river at the Jury Drop: it faces Jurys Inn Hotel, where onlookers can express their verdict on your skill.
  • 4 Galway Races, Ballybrit Racecourse H91 V654 (6 km northeast of city), ☏ +353 91 753870, ✉ information@galwayraces.com. This hosts four events a year: Summer Festival is a week in late July / early Aug, then they have two days early Sept, a day early Oct and three days late Oct. These are jumps races, which include "chases", similar rules but without jumps.
  • Watch Rugby Union ie 15-a-side. Connacht Rugby are one of the four Irish professional teams playing in Pro14, the top European (predominantly Celtic) tournament. Their home stadium is The Sportsground, capacity 8000, a mile northeast of the centre.
  • Galway Festival features music, theatre and exhibitions for two weeks in late July. The 2020 event was cancelled so the next is 12-25 July 2021.

Learn

  • The National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway.

Buy

  • Eyre Square Centre is the big mall next to the railway and bus stations. The shopping area runs south from the square to the river, as Williams St, Shop St, High St, Mainguard St and Quay St. The old buildings and busy atmosphere make it an attractive area to stroll.
  • Middle Street, parallel to Shop Street, is good for creative independent outlets, including the Irish-speaking theatre "An Taibhdhearc," the Cocoon designer studio, Charlie Byrne's Bookshop and Kenny's gallery / bookshop.
  • Galway Market is in Church Lane next to St Nicholas Church. It's open Sa 08:00-18:00, Su 14:00-18:00.
  • Sheridan's Cheesemongers on Kirwans Lane is a great place to get wine, pates, bread, and of course cheese.

Eat

  • See "Buy" above for Eyre Square supermarket and Galway Market.
  • 1 Kirby's, 3-5 Cross St Lower H91 FX30, ☏ +353 91 569 404. Daily 12:00-22:30. Great food and service for a good price.
  • McCambridges, 38-39 Shop St H91 T2N7 (off Eyre Square), ☏ +353 91 562 259. M-Sa 08:00-19:00, Su 10:00-18:00. Deli food hall downstairs does take away sandwiches, upstairs restaurant serves good sit-down meals.
  • Fat Freddy's, The Halls, 15 Quay St, ☏ +353 91 567 279, ✉ info@fatfreddys.net. Daily 12:00-22:00. Longest established cheap-and-cheerful place: pizza, burgers, and the like.
  • 2 McDonagh's, 22 Quay St H91 N902, ☏ +353 91 565 001. M-Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 14:00-21:00. Famous fish and chip shop, takeaway or eat either at the communal cafe tables or in the restaurant.
  • 3 McSwiggans, 3 Eyre St, ☏ +353 91 568 917, ✉ reservations@mcswiggans.ie. Daily 12:00-22:30. Big restaurant on the two floors above the bar but rightly popular and gets crowded. Traditional fare.
  • 4 Ard Bia at Nimmo's, Spanish Arch, Long Walk H91 E9XA, ☏ +353 91 561 114, ✉ reservations@ardbia.com. Cafe Tu-Su 10:00-15:30; restaurant Tu-Sa 18:00-22:00. Delicious food and atmosphere, gets rave reviews. Restaurant is a splurge and you'd better book, cafe brunch is less pricey.
  • 5 Oscar's Seafood Bistro, 36 Dominick Street Lower H91 V253, ☏ +353 91 582 180. M-Sa 17:30-21:30. Gets rave reviews for its seafood, vegans also catered for.
  • 6 O'Reilly's (formerly Lohans), 232 Upper Salthill Road H91 PTD9, ☏ +353 91 522 610, ✉ oreillysbarandkitchen@gmail.com. Daily 09:30-21:00. Mostly traditional Irish fare with a leavening of Med dishes.
  • Grain & Grill is within Maldron Hotel, see Sleep. Serves food daily 08:00-21:00.
  • Others worth trying are Finnegans on Market St, Kirwan's Lane Seafood, and Goya's bakery next door for cakes.

Drink

See also Galway City Pub Guide for current reviews, photos and videos.
  • Galway Hooker is the local beer, brewed since 2014 at Oranmore at the head of Galway Bay. It's a chemical-free pale ale: "We couldn't afford chemicals." They don't do brewery tours but the product is widely available.
  • An Pucan, 11 Forster St H91 P65D (by railway and bus stations), ☏ +353 91 376 561. Lively bar with music and dancing, it's the food that reviewers seem most to enjoy.
  • 1 Taaffes Pub, 19 Shop St. Daily 10:30-00:30. Great authentic Irish experience. You can find trad music there almost any night and there's a friendly atmosphere. Food only to 17:00.
  • 2 King's Head, 15 High Street H91 AY6P, ☏ +353 91 567 866. Daily 11:00-22:00. Bar with restaurant on three floors, often has live music.
  • Freeneys, 19 High St H91 TD79 (next to King's Head). Daily 10:30-23:30. Fine traditional pub, often much quieter than its neighbours midweek, indeed at first glance from the street it doesn't look like a pub. They pour a good Guinness but where Freeney's excels is in its collection of Irish whiskeys.
  • 3 Tigh Neachtain, 17 Cross St (The bright cornflower-blue one, corner with Quay St), ☏ +353 91 568 820. Su-Th 10:30-23:30, F Sa 10:30-00:30. A local favourite: good grub, whiskey and atmosphere.
  • Busker Brownes, 5 Cross St Upper H91 FX30 (part of Kirby's Restaurant), ☏ +353 91 563 377. M-Sa 10:00-02:00, Su 12:00-02:00. Four bars: the original Busker's and Slatehouse, while the large Hall and small Mezzanine bars are often booked for events. Also, Kirby's upstairs turns into a late bar after dinner. Live bands nightly from 22:30. Decent bar food.
  • 4 The Quays, 11 Quay Street, ☏ +353 91 568 347. M-Th 09:00-00:30, F-Su 09:00-03:00. Lively pub, the interior is done up like a church. Also calls itself a "gastropub" (which frankly it's not, you won't starve but few visitors rate the food) and a "music hall" which is on the mark, there's always live folk and other styles of music.
  • Monroe's, 14 Dominick Street Upper H91 WD2H (White frontage is very prominent from Spanish Arch), ☏ +353 91 583 397. M-Th 10:00-23:30, F Sa 10:00-02:30, Su 12:00-23:30. Has traditional music every night and set dancing on Tuesdays.
  • Roisin Dubh, 9 Dominick Street Upper H91 X266 (opposite Oscar's Restaurant), ☏ +353 91 586 540. Su-Th 15:00-00:00, F Sa 15:00-01:00. Pub with two stages, mostly alternative and rock gigs and comedy.
  • 5 The Crane Bar, 2 Sea Rd H91 YP97, ☏ +353 91 587 419. M-Th 10:30-23:30, F 10:30-01:00, Sa 12:30-01:00, Su 12:30-23:30. Great pub, music nightly: trad downstairs or various styles upstairs, where you need to grab your seat not much after 21:00. Bar is cash only.
  • 6 Cookes Thatch Bar, 2 Newcastle Rd (near University Hospital), ☏ +353 91 521 749. Daily 12:30-23:00. The last thatched pub in Galway city, dating back to the 1600s. (Within the county are Powers at Oughterad, and Morans at Kilcolgan). Has trad music on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
  • Others worth a look: Blue Note on West William St, Tigh Chóilí on Mainguard St, and Front Door on Cross St.

Sleep

As Galway is a popular destination, there's a large selection of accommodation in all price brackets.

Budget

Where else would you find so many decent hostels right in the centre? In any other city, the chain business hotels and financial firms would have bought the land from under them.

  • Snoozles Hostel (formerly Barnacles), 10 Quay St, ☏ +353 91 568 644, fax: +353 91 568 644, ✉ info@snoozleshostel.ie. Basic hostel in quirky 400-year old building has dorms and private rooms, sleeps 110. They've another branch on Forster St (sleeps 130) which is far more expensive. Dorm €20.
  • Galway City Hostel, Frenchville Lane, Eyre Square, ☏ +353 91 535 878, ✉ info@galwaycityhostel.com. Very central hostel, upgraded in Nov 2019, clean and well-run. A bit cramped for storage. Dorm €20 ppn includes breakfast.
  • Kinlay House Hostel, Merchants Road, Eyre Square H91 F2KT, ☏ +353 91 565 244, fax: +353 91 565 245, ✉ info@kinlaygalway.ie. Affordable, clean and central hostel, refurbished in Jan 2020. Dorm €30.
  • Sleepzone, Bóthar Na mBan H91 TD66 (200 m north of Eyre Square), ☏ +353 91 566 999, ✉ info@sleepzone.ie. 200 bed hostel, clean and well-run. In summer they run tours to Connemara and The Burren, which have affiliated hostels. Dorm €30 ppn.

Mid-range

Bed and breakfasts

Even by Irish standards, Galway has a ridiculous abundance of B&Bs. Two clusters are on College Road by the lough, within 1 km of the centre, and in Salthill where you'll probably want your own car.

  • 1 Desota House B&B, 54 Newcastle Road, Cookes Corner H91 F5Y3, ☏ +353 91 585 064. Six rooms all en suite. No children. B&B double €130.
  • 2 Rockbarton Park Hotel, Salthill, ☏ +353 91 522 286. Called a hotel but really a comfy small B&B near Blackrock Beach, excellent hostess.
  • 3 Coolin House B&B, Threadneedle St, Salthill, ☏ +353 91 523 411. Small B&B open April-Oct, has private parking. B&B double €90.
  • Marless House, 8 Threadneedle Rd, Salthill H91 AK85 (next to Coolin House), ☏ +353 91 523 931. A Georgian-style family home in a quiet residential area, Great welcome, and rooms cosy and immaculate. B&B double €90.
  • 4 Claremount House B&B, Salthill Upper, ☏ +353 91 584 741. Family-run B&B next to Galway Golf Club and Salthill Promenade. All rooms are en suite, great welcome and service. B&B double €100.
  • 5 Asgard Guesthouse, 21 College Rd H91 XR8P, ☏ +353 91 566 855, ✉ info@GalwayCityGuestHouse.com. Pleasant B&B by lough 500 m from city center. Rooms small but clean and comfy, free Wi-Fi. B&B double €90.
  • 6 Almara House, 2 Merlin Gate, Old Dublin Rd (3 km east of centre), ☏ +353 91 755 435, ✉ info@almarahouse.com. Clean B&B with friendly helpful hosts. B&B double €100.
  • 7 Tara House, 138 Salthill Road Lower, ☏ +353 91 527 966. Clean friendly B&B with private car park. En suite rooms have TV, wifi, hairdryer, ironing, tea and coffee making facilities. Ground floor accommodation available. B&B double €120.

Hotels

  • 8 Jurys Inn, Quay St H91 E8D7, ☏ +353 91 566 444, ✉ jurysinngalway@jurysinn.com. Good mid-range chain, great service. B&B double €150.
  • 9 Menlo Park Hotel, Headford Rd, ☏ +353 91 761 122. Hotel with 54 rooms in quiet area 2 km from centre, friendly staff and lovely rooms. B&B double €130.
  • 10 Travelodge Galway Hotel, Joyce Roundabout, Tuam Road, ☏ +353 91 781 400, fax: +353 91 781 798, ✉ galway@travelodge.ie. Reliable chain hotel, great service, 1.5 km from centre.
  • 11 Wards Hotel, Lower Salthill, ☏ +353 91 581 508. Basic small hotel, usually clean but sometimes smelly.
  • Galmont Hotel (formerly Radisson Blu), Lough Atalia Rd H91 CYN3, ☏ +353 91 538 300. Good modern hotel overlooking the lough, short walk to city centre. B&B double €110.
  • 12 Maldron Hotel, Sandy Road, Headford Point H91 ET6N, ☏ +353 91 513 200, ✉ reception.sandyroad@maldronhotels.com. Modern hotel 1.5 km north of centre. Free car parking and easy access from M6 and M17. B&B double €160.
  • 13 Connacht Hotel, Old Dublin Road H91 K5DD, ☏ +353 91 381 200, ✉ reservations@theconnacht.ie. Good modern hotel two km east of centre. Onsite dining, coffee shop and meeting rooms. Free parking (though limited) and free Wi-Fi. B&B double €150.
  • 14 Residence Hotel (formerly Spanish Arch Hotel), 14 Quay Street H91 P628, ☏ +353 091 569600, ✉ info@theresidencehotel.ie. Boutique hotel in Latin Quarter. 20 bedrooms. Good ratings for comfort and service, but there's often loud music downstairs until 2 am. Double (room only) €150.

Splurge

The plentiful mid-range options mean that the upscale group are cheaper than in many other cities. Most are clustered around Eyre Square and adjoining Forster Street very close to the bus and railway stations; this area is often noisy on weekend nights. There's a scattering further out.

  • Eyre Square Hotel, Forster Street, ☏ +353 91 569633. Very central comfy 3-star hotel. It doesn't have parking, but is next to bus and railway station. B&B double €190.
  • Forster Court Hotel, Forster Street (just north of Eyre Square), ☏ +353 91 564 111, ✉ reservations@theforstercourt.ie. Stylish boutique hotel with restaurant. Very central, occasional street noise. B&B double €160.
  • The Hardiman (formerly Meyrick Hotel), Eyre Square, ☏ +353 91 564 041. Victorian hotel, the modern rooms are good, but the older rooms are a bit, well, old. Service standards variable. B&B double €180.
  • Imperial Hotel Galway, Eyre Square, ☏ +353 91 563 033. Comfy central hotel, great service, some noise from the square. B&B double €170.
  • Park House Hotel, 18 Forster St H91 PCF8, ☏ +353 91 564 924. Grand old place, clean and friendly. Very central, ask for a back room if you're bothered about street noise. Parking may be available. B&B double €200.
  • Victoria Hotel, Victoria Place (off Eyre Square), ☏ +353 91 567 433. Central 3-star hotel, under renovation in spring 2020. B&B double €170.
  • 15 G Hotel, Old Dublin Road, ☏ +353 91 865 200. Swanky five-star hotel, 1 km from centre, with spa. Great comfort and service. B&B double €250.
  • 16 Galway Bay Hotel, The Promenade, Salthill Rd Lower H91 W295, ☏ +353 91 514 644. Great service, rooms dated but comfy enough. Has a spa and leisure centre. B&B double €180.
  • 17 Salthill Hotel, Promenade, Salthill H91 DD4V, ☏ +353 91 522 711. Good spacious hotel with leisure centre and pool. B&B double €200.

Stay safe

Galway is a safe town by any standards, but give the swerve to damnfool drunks.

Go next

  • South across Galway Bay is County Clare, and the spare limestone terrain of The Burren, which meets the Atlantic at the Cliffs of Moher.
  • If you wish to hear Irish being spoken as a first language, visit towns like Carna, An Spidéal, CarraroeBarna, all west of Galway City in the Connemara area. English is also spoken in these towns if you are not confident enough to speak Irish just yet, but as a visitor you can appreciate hearing the Irish language being spoken in one of the few areas where it is a thriving first spoken language and has priority over English.
  • The Aran Islands are reached by ferry from Connemara.



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