Galway City is know for its leisure offerings, and its pubs and cafes are very popular in Ireland. Students make up a quarter of the total population and you can see remains of the medieval walls between the shops selling Aran sweaters, handmade rings, and books. The bridges form arches over rivers full of salmon, and a long walk down to the town of Salthill in Galway Bay lets you see the source of the region's famous oysters. One thing that surprised me a lot was the breakfast. On several posters in a couple cafes, we saw the typical Irish Breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, etc, but in Galway, the breakfast is...oysters!
Initially, this Benedictine abbey was a castle, owned by Mitchell Henry, who had it built for his wife Margaret. He was very much in love with her, but she died very young at 45 year from a disease that she contracted in Cairo. The abbey is located on the shores of a lake surrounded by a forest, which gives it a special charm. The property also consists of a neo-Gothic chapel and a mausoleum where the Henrys are buried.
I see that many have written about the castle itself and even acknowledging the nightly banquet, but few every really attend! I in fact did reserve and attend the famed banquet.
It was probably more geared towards kids/teens and older folks. That being said it was very cute and lovely to see. When walking into the castle, we were greeted by a charming fellow and a honey wine that was extremely sweet. From there we were guided into the foyer with a woman playing a harp and treated as if we were royal guests to the castle. A lord and lady were announced from a couple of tourists and were honored throughout the night. I could tell that the kids were having a brilliant time seeing adults pretend with them. There were about 40 people there when we went.
We were then guided upstairs to the dining room which was decorated in the old Gothic style and with 4 large long tables in the room. The pretend lord and lady sat at the back and watched. The meal included a leek soup, a smoked salmon salad, and chicken with potatoes, wine and a lovely dessert! Everything was a bit touristy but it was a wonderful experience.
Throughout the night the harpist, the man that greeted us, and a lovely woman acted out sonnets, poems, songs, and historical tellings. It was a great show and they were very talented people!
In Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland, the most attractive island is Inishmore (Inis Mór in Gaelic), where we find suggestive and lost beaches, endless and empty roads, a remote village where hospitality is simply excellent and cliffs (with ruined castle included) that have nothing to envy of the other cliffs in Ireland which may be more famous. You can choose to tour of the island on foot, it was just something we did and ended up a bit destroyed, by van (with explanations) or the most popular is renting a bike. Very untouched islands where it is worth getting a little lost...
Connemara National Park has some spectacular views. For me it's paradise lost. It breathes a lot of peace, and it looks like Kylemore Abbey is something straight out of a fairy tale. It could not be better, it is a magical place that I recommend everyone traveling through Ireland visit.
I could not resist staying longer than planned just to visit this cathedral. In summer you can find someone playing the organ. The cathedral itself has no altar, but it has spectacular arches and paintings surrounded by purely Irish architecture. Admission is free.
This is a small market that is located in the old town of Galway. Galway itself is very small but the most interesting part of the city is the old town. Right next to the collegiate church of St. Nicholas is a small market where you can find a little bit of everything, from paintings to handmade jewelry.
Róisin Dubh - Dominick Street. It is a big pub where you can hear live performances. McSwiggan's - Eyre Street. Pub with many floors. The place has an old décor and full of little corners. It also has great cuisine. King's Head - High Street. Pub where you can listen to music. Tigh Neachtain - Quay Street. The Quays - Quay Street. Tomas O'Riada - High Street. Taylor's Bar - Dominick Street. Monroe's Tavern - Dominick Street Upper.
The Spanish Arch is what is left of the ancient city gate of the wall that protected the city docks. It owes its name to the important trade with Spanish ships, before the Armada, that landed there. Right next door is the Galway City Museum.
The good thing about renting a car is that you can stop where you want, as we did making the tour of the Burren, a place with wonderful scenery. The narrow road runs along the coast, passing through some villages. We stopped at this beach, where thanks to the low tide we could walk on the rocks and look at the variety of shells and marine species. I loved this area.
They say that time has stopped in this Irish village where they filmed much of the world famous movie, "The Quiet Man", in 1961. They say it is the most televised film in the USA, which is probably true considering the fact that the Irish population in America is very important. In the village you will find many references to the film, although it is very attractive and by now a tourist attraction in its own right. There is even a museum inspired by the film. The inhabitants of the village participated as extras during the filming, which must have been a big event in their lives, the imprint of which is still alive. For them it is a symbol and this summer they will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the film. By the way, the famous pub featured in the film was a hardware store at the time which was converted into a pub. The truth is that it is a good place to spend the night, enjoy the calm, and who knows, maybe meet Miss Cong. As we came up to it it seemed as if we moved to the U.S. somewhere!
This is one of the stops on our tour of Connemara. It's a lake with stunning views as you can see in the photos, but the road is an absolute horror: a very narrow, bumpy mountain road where you constantly feel like you're in danger of falling at any swerve.
The very name of this road Sky Road lives up to its name This is a narrow road of the town of Clifden, in Connemara County, and is apart from the ocean. Going up and discovering the views that take your breath away : the meadows are studded with wildflowers in summer down a gentle slope to the ocean. There are lonely houses and sheep scattered as if they were painted in the landscape of a painting, and stone fences "decorate" this incredible island that is Ireland and that remind us that even the most unthinkable lands have an owner. Then sea and islands greet us on the horizon. I think the best is to go walking as long as the weather is good and you have time. However, rare is the day that a strong wind blows from those that force you to work hard twice, that do not let you hear any more, and that at any given time can put you in danger if you get too close to the edge. You can also go by car, but not many places to park (there are some viewpoints), and the road is quite narrow and winding so you have to go watch who may appear in front.
Cong village is famous for being the main stage of The Quiet Man, but it keeps a few surprises for visitors. Cong Abbey, from the XII century, is a must that is easy to find as the village is very small. Like other abbeys its stone and arches ooze history. Members of the community met in a room here, to publicly confess their sins. Tremendous. What surprised and delighted us, however, was its exterior. The cloister, of which today are just some bows and manicured lawns, is the prelude to a park of huge, precious trees, that guards the way to a river and the monk's fishing house. Here they sought some of their livelihood, while meditating. Who would not in such a placid place? Cross an old bridge next to the ivy-covered house, with historic iron railings, to reach the forest. A forest that left me with my mouth open as it seemed so intricate and primitive. Towering trees covered with muso or ivy, bushes and roads of mud and leaves. No one in sight, it may be too disturbing, it transported me to another era and I began to imagine those first settlers of Ireland who had to live in this environment, probably hostile, where they would be afraid at night and on cloudy, rainy day.
This is a typical Irish pub in the heart of Galway called Richardsons and located at number 1 of the square, the corner house. The walls were full of license plates, shields of policemen, firemen, etc. and souvenirs of all kinds. I would recommend it to have a quiet beer while you admire the memorabilia on the walls. We signed the guest book and we left with good memories of the place.
Renting a car in Ireland comes at a cost. And I'm not talking about money. Driving in the way that we are used to can drive anyone crazy, but if you add to this rainy, routes through very narrow and windy roads... But then, in the cost-benefit equation, the scenery that you can enjoy whilst driving through the Gaelic lands are little more than amazing. Just look at the photos.
After traveling throughout Ireland, it feels like a picturesque fantasy full of green and the ocean and little pubs everywhere, so when we ended our trip in Galway it was like a breath of fresh air. Especially the Latin Quarter.
My mom and I drove into the city centre from our little B&B on the outskirts and randomly found a parking garage to pull into. We just wanted to park anywhere so we could get out and walk around freely. Little did we know that we parked right in the Latin Quarter in the heart of Galway! When coming out of the garage it was as if we stepped into another time. We of course found ourselves in the famed Kirwan's Lane with Judy Greene's fantastic shop that has been there for decades!
There are a million really amazing restaurants and it is just full of souvenir shops for loved ones back home.
The best part of the Latin Quarter in Galway though are the performers on the street. There were people with harps, guitars, magicians, and singers. It felt as if we had stepped into a talent show and were viewing all of the finalists for the finale. I felt very much at home on this street even though I am not a musician. It just felt very free spirited!
Located in the nightlife zone, this bar is one of Galway's most famous pubs for the traditional music (folk) that is played here. It offers nightly music on both floors. The upstairs has capacity for 70 people and the atmosphere is intimate and quiet. Below is an authentic traditional bar featuring live performances every night . Sometimes the charge for attending concerts is €10. The group Kangaroo Moon, from Australia, played there recently and the sound was really good. If you like traditional music, then come here to drink beer and enjoy the music.