Getting to Know Galway
Written by: Sydney M Crago on December 20, 2019
If you or your clients are getting ready to visit Ireland and want to venture outside of Dublin, read up on Galway, a stunning seaside town that you’ll want to add to your itinerary!
Along the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland’s western coast, you’ll find the city of Galway. This charming town is home to about 80,000 residents making it a large city by Ireland’s standards but it carries with it a small-town feel. Part of this city’s charm is its walkability. The city center is made up of many shops and restaurants that catch your eye with their bright colors and open doors. It is also home to the Claddagh neighborhood and is the original home of the Irish friendship ring, the Claddagh ring.
Galway is also known for its traditional music, or trad, and the city embraces this reputation. Local musicians are invited to play along the pedestrian streets, and pubs often have live music. But the real key is to find a trad session. These are open-door events where musicians are welcome to bring their instruments and play along with anyone else who shows up. The Western Hotel’s bar hosted one such event one of our nights in town, and I counted seventeen musicians playing at one time.
The city’s music along with its continued use and celebration of the Gaelic language are a few of the reasons Galway will be the 2020 European Capital of Culture. Plans are already well-underway to show off this seaside city to Europe and the rest of the world, so make sure to plan your visit early!
From Galway, we also took a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. One of the most photographed sights in Ireland, these cliffs look out over the Atlantic Ocean and have a sheer drop of about 700 feet. I was so excited to see them in real life, and while we weren’t thrilled to get caught in a rain shower while on top, it was incredible to see the rain clouds roll in and out so quickly. Along with the cliffs, this tour also included stops at the Aillwee Cave, Dunguaire Castle, and a break for lunch in the small village of Doolin.
Eating in Ireland
For me, a key part of exploring a new place is through food, and there was certainly a lot of tempting dining options in Galway and across Ireland. I have a few rules about eating on vacation to help me narrow my choices.
- Never eat in the same restaurant twice.
- Try the regional specialties from local, not chain, restaurants
- Skip the touristy spots. I find the going just one block over from touristy areas usually means less of a crowd, more personal service, and reasonable prices on high-quality food.
So, what was eating in Ireland like with these rules? I think Irish food gets an undeserved bad rap. Many traditional Irish dishes do center around on meat and potatoes, but the flavors and quality of the ingredients are exceptional.
Each day began with a full Irish breakfast was one of the highlights of the trip. With eggs, bacon, beans, and blood sausage, it’s a hearty way to start the day! We usually opted for a light lunch and found that, though every soup of the day I tried was different, each was delicious! Soups were usually paired with freshly baked brown bread and Irish cream butter, which made this a filling and tasty option.
For dinners, I worked my way through the Irish traditions: Guinness Stew, Bangers and Mash, Lamb Burgers, and more. On evening, I happily departed from the traditional fare to try tapas at Cava Bodega in Galway and was not disappointed. The flavors were phenomenal, and it easily makes it into the top three meals I’ve ever had. (Shout out to fellow member of the Marketing Team, Amanda Bailey, for the recommendation.)
But the food is only one half of the Irish dining experience; it’s also about the local brews. Guinness was on tap everywhere we stopped, but I also found that Rockshore, Murphy’s, and Franciscan Well were well worth a taste. And a helpful tip for those who aren’t beer lovers: You can order a glass of beer, which is a half-pint, instead of a full pint while you relax in an Irish pub. If beer isn’t your thing, you can opt for an Irish Coffee or a whiskey; the choice is yours.
From Dublin to Galway and everywhere in-between, my experience in Ireland was one for the books. Ireland is full of beautiful scenery, fantastic experiences, and charming people. I can’t say enough good things about it and why your clients are sure to love their experience on the Emerald Isle.
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