There's so much to do and see in Galway, but more than that, Galway is all about atmosphere. To get a feel for our vibrant city and its surrounds, check out this incredible video from bulabosca - This is Galway!
Galway is a vibrant University city which has managed to retain its old world charm. It is situated on the River Corrib at the mouth of Galway Bay. With a population of approx. 80,000 inhabitants, it is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.
Galway is renowned for its festivals, music, theatres, cinemas, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, shops and narrow medieval streets and lanes. There are many historical and cultural places of interest ranging from its rich medieval history to the modern-day arts and entertainment. Throughout the year, formal evening entertainment or relaxed events can be found here.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Park is an inner-city public park in Galway, Ireland, formerly officially named Eyre Square (Irish: An Fhaiche Mhór) and still widely known by that name. The park is within the city centre, adjoining the nearby shopping area of William Street and Shop Street. Eyre Square is the perfect place to begin your walking tour of Galway.
Take a Walking Tour of Historic Galway
Galway city has many relics of its medieval past, and is well worth taking time to explore. Galway is best known as the ‘City of the Tribes’ and dates back to the 13th century, when 14 wealthy merchant families lived within its medieval walls, and controlled the commercial, political and social development of the town. Ramble through the many narrow medieval pedestrianised streets and lanes with cafes, restaurants and art houses. Visit the impressive Lynch’s Castle on Shop Street with its gargoyles still intact. Close by is St. Nicholas Collegiate church, dating back to the 13th century. Further down the street you will find the Spanish Arch. The impressive modern Cathedral is built on the grounds of the old Galway gaol is well worth a visit. For more detailed information visit our Historical & Cultural page. If you’re after an entertaining and engaging way to experience the history, folklore and culture of our beautiful city, we highly recommend Brian’s Walking Tours of Galway, which starts at O’Connell’s Bar on Eyre Square daily at 10:30am and noon. Brian is both knowledgeable and entertaining while giving you an insight into life in Galway over the past thousand years.
Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas
Galway Cathedral stands on the site of the old Galway Gaol and dominates the Galway skyline. This magnificent Cathedral was built in 1965 of cut limestone in a combination of classical and traditional design and has Connemara Marble flooring throughout. Open 7 days, 10am to 6pm
Nora Barnacle’s Museum
Nora Barnacle’s Museum is located at 8 Bowling Green, was the home of Nora Barnacle, who married world famous novelist, James Joyce. Joyce visited this house in 1909 and 1912 and wrote poems and articles about the city and people of Galway. The house-museum is open from the end of May to the end of August.
National University of Ireland, Galway
National University of Ireland, Galway, (formerly University College Galway) is a stately Victorian Quadrangle, built in 1816, which now plays a very important part in the city’s social, business and artistic life. Today, 17,000 students attend the university, studying arts, sciences, medicine and business courses.
Galway City Museum
Opened in 2008, the City Museum is an Arts and Heritage Museum and tells the story of Galway’s history from medieval times to the present day. It is situated in the heart of Galway city close to the famous Spanish Arch. Open 7 days in the summer months.
The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas
Built in 1320, it the largest Medieval Parish Church in Ireland. Christopher Columbus worshipped here before crossing the Atlantic in 1492. The church is still in use and still retains the chancel and nave from that time. Tombstones within the church provide a fascinating record of the lives and deaths of people from the 12th – 20th centuries. Open 10am to 5pm daily.
Lynch’s Castle & Memorial Window
Dating back to 1329, Lynch’s Castle is a fine example of a Tower House, with a gargoyle, carved coats of arms and stone mullioned windows. It still retains its original stone façade and is now the home of the Allied Irish Bank. Open Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm
The Lynch Memorial Window is housed in a stone façade backing on to the grounds of St Nicholas Church. This is a 19th Century memorial to the ‘stern and unbending’ justice of James Lynch who, as mayor, condemned and hanged his own son from this window in 1493 for the murder of a Spanish youth.
The Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch is on the banks of the river Corrib, so named because of Galway’s trading with Spain, was built in 1584 These two arches are the remains of the city walls and were built on one of the stone cut piers of Galway’s Medieval Harbour.. The Arch leads to the Long Walk area, where in past times, Galway’s gentry strolled, while the Claddagh women sold their fish in the open park that had been caught earlier in the day by the Claddagh fishermen.
The Claddagh was once a famous fishing village, which had a population of 3000 and a fleet of 300 fishing boats. The small thatched homes are now gone, but the black hulls of the fishing boats, Galway Hookers and Pucans still remain, as do the white swans of the Claddagh. In the Dominican Church, is the wonderful 17th century wooden statue of the Blessed Mother, known as “Our Lady of Galway”. The world famous Claddagh ring owes its origin to this area of Galway. It comprises a heart and two hands clasped in friendship, is used as a traditional wedding ring and is still made in Galway.
This wall is a major section of the Galway medieval town wall, built in the 13th century, can be found in the centre of the Eyre Square Shopping Centre.
Shopping in Galway
Galway city offers the best in local and international shopping. There are several department stores in the heart of the city, each within easy walking distance, and a variety of retail and factory outlets, both in shopping centres such as the Eyre Square Shopping Centre as well as along the narrow medieval streets. Best buys are Claddagh rings and jewellery, Aran sweaters, Tweeds, Irish linen, Galway Irish Crystal, Royal Tara China, Judy Greene Pottery and Connemara Marble items of jewellery.
Kirwan's Lane contains many relics of 16th and 17th century architecture. It is located in the centre of the area that was originally within the city walls, and is named after one of Galway's fourteen "tribes" - the families who ruled the town for several centuries. Its complete restoration has pumped life back into the heart of the historical town centre. Now home to cafes, restaurants and craft-shops, the lane captures the atmosphere of old Galway.
Galway Irish Crystal - A visit to the impressive Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Centre offers an excellent introduction to the Irish history and culture of the West of Ireland. In the showroom, you will find their entire product range of traditionally crafted Irish lead Crystal, Belleek and Aynsley China.
The Galway Market has been trading every Saturday morning in Church lane, beside the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas for centuries, selling fresh produce and hand made crafts. There is also a great variety of locally produced cheeses, home made breads, jams, marmalades, crepes, hand made chocolates, soups, madras curry, sushi to name but a few. Crafts include Celtic and other types of jewellery, knitted scarves, hats, gloves, hand bags, and much more.
Claddagh Rings and Jewellery - The Claddagh ring has been associated with Galway since the 17th century. It consists of a pair of hands enclosing a heart and topped with a crown, representing friendship, love and loyalty respectively. It was originally used as an engagement ring and wedding ring. There are many stores throughout the city selling Celtic Jewellery. Dillon’s of Galway, established in 1750, are the original makers of the Claddagh ring. Each Claddagh ring and piece of jewellery is stamped Original and is Hallmarked. Situated in 1. Quay Street. Catherine is an expert on all things ‘Gold’ and will be happy to advise you on all items of jewellery.
Kennys Art Gallery is situated in Cross Street. The Gallery organise several solo and group Exhibitions each year. Over the years they have showcased the works of artists such as Jack Yeats, Paul Henry, Sean Keating, George Campbell, to name but a few.
Bold Art Gallery is located on Merchant’s Road and is one of the newest art galleries in the west and has already built up an impressive reputation for quality and surroundings. Its aim is to encourage and exhibit new talent alongside established Irish and International artists. A wide variety of exhibitions can be found here throughout the year.
Royal Tara China Royal is crafted in Tara Hall. This historical 17th century mansion was once the home of the Joyce family and now hosts the world famous Royal Tara china. The extensive showroom houses an extensive range of handcrafted tableware and giftware.
Charlie Byrne’s second hand book store in The Cornstore, Middle Street. They stock over 50,000 used, new and remaindered titles, ranging from popular fiction to art and archaeology. Also stocked are recently published titles by Local novelists and poets on local and national history.
Standun Store in Spiddal - On the coast road to Spiddal, this family run store stocks a large range of quality Irish products – Aran Sweaters, woollens, tweeds, linens, crystal, pottery, china and jewellery, including the famous Claddagh ring. Also some of the most sought-after and influential Irish designers clothes to suit all the family are available. Open Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm
Judy Greene Pottery is located in Kirwan’s Lane in the heart of the city and offers a beautiful range of functional and decorative pots, vases and much more, for the home.
Connemara Marble Visitor Centre - Experience the skilled craftsmen at work, making jewellery and gifts from marble quarried at Streamstown, Connemara. The quarry is 500 million years old. The marble show tunsted and interlocking bands of serpentine, in various shades of light green and dark green.
Roundstone Musical Instruments' store offers genuine goatskin Bodhrans handcrafted with care by Malachy Kearns.