By Eimear Birch
“We want to spotlight the culture, music, food and people as opposed to history and the landscape.”
Hi, my name is Eimear and I’m delighted to give you a small insight into where I am from – Galway City, Ireland. I am a final year student studying International Tourism Management at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology. I hope you enjoy this article and get a chance to visit the city someday.
About Galway City: the population is 79,934, the language is English, and the local time is GMT.
Galway City is a unique part of Ireland. A Renaissance city at heart which offers a diverse set of experiences for every visitor. Although the city is enriched in history, it is also a vibrant city with a nightlife like no other. It’s the perfect city to showcase ancient Ireland with a modern twist. Galway City is said to be one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities.
Culture plays a huge role in the description of Galway. Culture is the word to describe the ‘way of life’ and if there is one way of life you should follow that is of a Galwegians.
2020 is the year you will see this at the forefront of the city as Galway is the European Capital of Culture for 2020. Which just proves that the culture in Galway is recognised worldwide. Galway is the largest Irish speaking district in Ireland, and they are fighting hard to keep the language alive.
Galway City Music Pubs
Music and Galway City go hand in hand. Almost a package deal when travelling to Galway you must get a chance to see some live music. What better way to see traditional Irish music but in a pub. Here are recommendations of the pubs with the most authentic Irish music in Galway City:
Situated at the end of Shop Street, Tig Coili is famous for its traditional Irish music sessions. What’s different about this pub is there are no TV’s or pool tables, meaning you can sit back and enjoy the live music without anyone getting in the way.
Trad music is played twice daily:
Monday to Thursday – 6 pm and 9:30 pm
Friday and Saturday 6 pm and 10 pm
A day session on Sunday at 2 pm and then Sunday evening at 8 pm.
This pub is also right in the City Centre. Home to Irish ballads and folk music as well as Trad sessions daily in the evening and after 9 pm. Outside the front of the pub is the smoking area and it is Galway cities best people-watching spot. I’d recommend drinking an Irish coffee to keep warm (for health reasons obviously!)
This pub is away from the busy city and a favourite for locals. A great place to go for an authentic traditional Irish pub experience. There are two floors of music to choose from so be sure to see it all.
A great pub for visitors to Galway. Located on Quay Street (the clue is in the name). There is live Irish music every night featuring a mix of new and old music. The smoking area is out on the busy quay street so grab a chair and watch the world go by.
Some other Galway pub recommendations:
Best dog-friendly pub – Carroll’s on Dominick Street
Best fireplace in Galway – O’Connor’s, Salthill
Pub with the most authentic décor – Tigh Neachtain, Cross Street
Pub with the best view – Corrib Princess, Woodquay
Walking down Shop Street on a summer’s day listening to all the buskers will have you thinking why would you travel to anywhere but Galway city. The talent as you walk by is so unbelievable you could almost spend all day on this street alone.
If you are lucky enough to visit during the Galway International Arts Festival, you must go to the ‘Big Top’. Here you will see amazing Irish and international acts perform at very reasonable prices. In 2019, over 200 events took place in 30 venues over the course of 14 days with an attendance in excess of 260,000. The Guardian named the festival as one of the Top 5 Summer Festivals in Europe.
People of Galway
The people of Galway city are like no other city. They are truly kind and caring people who will go out of their way to help you. The Irish welcome of ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ translating to a hundred thousand welcomes is put into practice by the locals. If you are lost or need advice in Galway city often the bartender or shop keeper will help you out more than the tourist office.
Food in Galway City
The restaurants in Galway have really upped their game in terms of quality and service. It is the home to food events like Food on The Edge and festivals such as the Galway Food Festival and the Galway Oyster Festival.
Galway city’s well-known street food market located on Church Lane by St Nicholas’ Church. It’s a market of tradition and has been around for centuries. You will find authentic fresh produce and locally produced crafts.
The market is open all year round on Saturdays from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. On Sundays, Bank Holidays, Fridays in July and August and every day during the Galway Arts Festival it is open from 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm.
In Galway finding a place to eat can be difficult but for all the right reasons. There are so many restaurants that it’s hard to decide on just one. From street food to Michelin star restaurants, there is something that will suit every budget, taste and mood.
To save time follow the quiz below to narrow down your options, and have a bit of craic!
If you scored 1-6: Galway Irish Restaurants
Located just off Eyre Square this is your one-stop pub for good craic and amazing food including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stick around for traditional music at the front or a live band at the back. There really is something for everyone! There is also a large beer garden where you can enjoy food and watch sports matches.
Located in the vibrant Latin Quarter so it is the perfect base to start any night out. Serves great food and is a late bar 7 nights a week with live music or DJ that will set you up for a night in Galway.
Known for their “Great Food, Great People, Great Atmosphere”. The bar has the ‘Buy a Pal a Pint’ service which means while enjoying your food or listing to the live band your friends can buy you a drink through an app, no matter where they are in the world.
If you scored 7-14: Galway Asian/Chinese Restaurants
Asian Tea House Restaurant:
A restaurant focusing on authenticity and staying true to traditions. The menu is inspired by the cuisines of China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Asian Tea House is the first Asian restaurant in Ireland to promote non-use of artificial flavourings or food preservatives.
An Asian Street Food Kitchen with four restaurants in Galway, so you won’t have too far to walk. This restaurant is amazing value with main courses coming in at €10. The portions are large too, so you won’t go hungry. I advise taking the leftovers home with you. You can thank me for that later! On a nice day take your meal outside and enjoy it, while listening to the Corrib River go by.
Xi’an Street Food:
Located at Quay Street in Galway City. It is a casual restaurant with limited seating upstairs. The food is prepared fast which doesn’t have an effect on the amazing quality of the food. This restaurant has the option to bring your own wine for just €5 so great for those on a budget.
If you scored 15-21: Galway’s Italian Restaurants
A contemporary Italian kitchen with a mix of seasonal food served. The wine consists of a selection of 75 wines that are all 100% Italian. Situated on The River Corrib it surely has one of the best views for eating a meal in Galway. There is also live jazz every Sunday to really make the experience unique. The below photo is of handmade gnocchi, Parmesan fonduta, braised radicchio, roasted chestnuts.
Da Roberta’s Ristorante & Pizzeria:
An authentic Italian restaurant located in Salthill. This is one of the most popular restaurants in Galway and it is no surprise because not only is the food amazing, but the service is next to none. They cater for large and small groups no problem.
The Dough Bros:
The perfect restaurant for pizza lovers. Pop into their restaurant just off shop street or visit O’Connell’s pub on Eyre Square where they have a food truck in the beer garden. You are guaranteed amazing pizza every time.
Galway and Sustainability
There is a huge focus on sustainability in Galway city. Galway was the first Irish City to win European Green Leaf Award 2017. This has been helped by increasing the number of buses and cycling options for people travelling through the city. Galway city is also very well known for its different food options and with vegan and vegetarian restaurants surpassing fast food outlets, there has been a huge reduction in waste.
I hope by reading this article that you have got a little taste for what the amazing city of Galway has to offer. Try and give yourself a few days to really get a feel for the city. I would also encourage you to talk to the locals rather than following tourist hot spots, after all, it’s their city so they can offer better advice.