I’ve been wanting to go to Galway on the West coast of Ireland for some time. I finally had the opportunity to visit last week when, following a conference in Dublin, I’d been invited to speak at the University of Galway, and I decided to extend my stay for a couple of days. Not long enough to get out into the countryside of Connemara or the Burren, but plenty of time to have a good look around this relatively small medieval “city”.
I stayed in the Park House Hotel, close to the train station and the town centre
The settlement was established following the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland in the 13th Century and grew to become a “walled city” populated by Anglo-Irish. It was very much in “bandit country” surrounded by hostile native Irish. The West coast, far beyond the “Pale” of Dublin, never really developed any industry until relatively recently and so remained something of a backwater for many centuries. From a tourist perspective this has meant that many of the old buildings and features have been preserved.
or older features retained in some “newer” buildings
The “Spanish Arch” is the last remnant of the old city walls and one of the main tourist attractions
Today the local economy relies heavily on the tourist trade so there are plenty of shops (including many independents – not just the major national and international chains)
a weekend craft and farmer’s market
plenty of places to eat
and LOTS of pubs – it’s a real party town and a magnet for stag and hen trips
There are a number of old industrial warehouses and mills that have been restored and converted into flats, offices, shops and restaurants
and some Georgian period buildings
a relatively modern neo-Romanesque cathedral
and an interesting old fishing harbour
There’s a lively music scene and in the summer there’s an Arts Festival. And the nearby coastline and countryside is stunning. So it’s certainly a good base for a holiday – providing you are prepared to risk the weather – the West coast of Ireland is notoriously wet with the weather coming in straight off the Atlantic. I’ll be back!