The next time I visit Galway, I’ll fly into Shannon Airport. The next time I visit, I’ll also take a ferry to the Aran Islands. And next time I’ll tour Connemara. As you can tell, I’m already planning my next trip to Ireland and next time I’ll begin in Galway to do all the things we missed this time. We spent only one day and one night in Galway toward the end of our trip and it definitely wasn’t enough.
Since we didn’t have enough time for the Aran Islands or Connemara, we wandered around the Latin Quarter, the old town of Galway, at a leisurely pace taking in the vibe and the culture. Starting at Eyre Square where we stayed at the Meyrick Hotel, our first stop was to view the banners of the 14 tribes. Galway is called the City of Tribes after the 14 merchant families that controlled commerce and ruled Galway during the Middle Ages and beyond.
The most influential of the 14 was the Lynch family and their mansion, Lynch’s Castle, is the only townhouse that remains today. It was pretty much gutted and now houses AIB Bank, however.
Very few buildings of historical significance remain today, but the Spanish Arch and the Blind Arch next to it, constructed in 1584 as part of the city walls, are still standing. The Blind Arch is so-called because it’s actually an archway to a storage room rather than a passage.
Despite a dearth of historic buildings and monuments, several interesting current day cultural issues attracted my attention. Galway, is after all, a university town so current events demand student attention.
The narrow winding streets were clogged with tourists like us exploring the city. But the shops were colorful and welcoming and we did manage to shop a little for souvenirs.
One of the most interesting shops in Galway was Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold, home of the original Claddagh ring and the oldest jewelers in Ireland, established in 1750. There are several versions of the story of the Claddagh symbol, but it is said to have originated in a nearby fishing village named Claddagh on the River Corrib. If you’re not familiar with the Claddagh, it’s two hands (representing friendship) clasping a heart (representing love) with a crown (representing loyalty) above the heart. You can see it on the photo below. The ring is worn with the point of the heart facing outward if the wearer is available and inward if in a relationship. We ventured inside the shop and had a delightful experience witnessing an older couple buy an engagement ring to fulfill a long-held dream. Outside in front of the shop, I took several photos of them with their camera to help them commemorate the occasion.
Then it was time for a break at Sonny’s for an Irish coffee while we watched other shoppers pass by on High Street.
Dinner that night was at Brasserie on the Corner to take advantage of our last chance to enjoy fresh locally-sourced seafood on the Wild Atlantic Way. Or at least some of us did. Jim is usually lured more by beef and the beef was locally-sourced, too. The meal was outstanding as you can see.
Although the nightlife in Galway is highly touted, following dinner it was back to the historic Meyrick Hotel on Eyre Square for us. The oldest hotel in Galway, the Meyrick opened its doors in 1852 as the Railway Hotel. I found a super bed and breakfast rate of €115 on Sundays only which happened to be the day of our arrival. The hotel has an old world charm and elegance that I found particularly pleasing.
The sunset view from our room that evening was extra-special.
And the next time I visit Galway, all these experiences are definitely worth repeating.
Based on events from April 2015.