Galway

If anyone has ever been a fan of Carlsberg beer, you have probably heard their slogan… “probably the best beer in the world.”  I saw a lot of Carlsberg when I was in Ireland… and by saw, I clearly mean drank.  One day when I was walking around Galway, I saw a sweatshirt in the window of a souvenir store that caught my eye.  It was the same font as the Carlsberg logo, and it said “Galway: Probably the best city in Ireland.”  After visiting most of the major cities in Ireland (I’ll admit, I missed Limerick)… I would say I definitely agree.  I loved Galway, and I’m excited to blog about it and share some of my Galway stories.  

So I’ll admit, I didn’t spend as long in Galway as originally planned.  If you read my Aran Islands post, you’ll know that I had gone to Galway for a night ahead of my stay there to drop off my bag.  Without going into too much detail, I could tell that it wasn’t going to be a great living situation for those 3 weeks that I was supposed to be there, and I had gone to the Aran Islands to clear my head and figure out a plan.  Of course, plans changed drastically there, but since Kevin was from outside Galway and still has a house there, I still did spend a bit of time there.  And with my friends Melissa and Marc visiting, we spent a couple nights in Galway as well.  It is, hands down, a great Irish city… in my opinion, the best :)

 

I spent my first week in Galway in Salthill, an outlier of the city that’s on the road out to Ros A Mhil, where you can get the ferry to the Aran Islands.  Salthill reminded me a lot of Atlantic City… or how Atlantic City will be in 50 years maybe.  On a much smaller scale, of course… but it is right on the shore and has old fashioned casinos that face out onto the water.  No boardwalk, but there is a long promenade on the water that stretches from Galway center all the way through Salthill.  Have you ever heard the song Galway Girl?  Or played it 60 times on repeat like my friends and I do on St. Paddy’s? ;-)  That’s the Salthill Prom the singer is talking about… and I’m happy to say I walked the whole thing quite a few times while I was there!  Salthill was really beautiful and it was nice to be on the water all the time.  We also walked the prom and then the main road all the way out to Silver Strand Beach, where we hiked up this gorgeous hill that just had tall grasses all around us and gave us a great panoramic of Galway on one side of the water and Doolin on the other.  Very peaceful.

 

When I was in Cork, a photographer friend I had made had put me in touch with a friend of his in Galway.  She was another photographer from the states… NY, actually…. But has been living outside of Galway for about 15 years.  We hit it off and she was nice enough to have me for a sleepover on her sheep farm.  Yes, before you ask- I WAS IN HEAVEN.  Sheep everywhere.  I was obsessed and didn’t want to leave… also, her husband and daughter were incredibly welcoming to me and it was nice to be around a tight-knit family when I was missing my own.  She was also gracious enough to organize a photographer night out for me on another night, and I had a blast.  We hit up a couple of bars in Galway and then made our way to a silent disco.  I loved seeing the name of the bar as we walked up… Roisin Dubh.   Aka Black Rose.  My favorite bar in Boston.  It all comes full circle, friends :)

 

Anyways, it was my first experience attending a silent disco and I had no idea what to expect, but I’ll say that it was absolutely hilarious.  Basically, for 5 euro you get a pair of headphones and a voucher for a free shot at the bar (which, of course, was terrible), and you have two deejays playing two different songs, with the music videos playing behind them on big screens.  The songs are usually much different tempo, so I guess the point is that you are singing and dancing like a fool to one song while your friends might be singing and dancing like a fool to another.  Or I don’t know if that’s the POINT, but it’s certainly what happens haha.  It’s not something I would do every weekend, but it’s a great memory I have of Galway.

 

Galway has a lot of great bars and restaurants, and many of them are located along the cobblestone streets of the Medieval Quarter.  It’s nice to walk around this part of town and listen to the different buskers performing on a nice day.  I actually stumbled across a group of buskers who were probably the best I heard the entire trip, called the Atlantic Pirates.  They were incredible and I included a picture of them below.

 

Kevin and I went to an amazing restaurant in Galway called The Malt House, and it might have been one of my best meals in Ireland.  The chocolate torte for dessert was pretty much to die for and I am gaining weight just thinking about it.  When my friends Melissa and Marc visited, we ate at a great Italian restaurant next to The Quays called Il Folletto, which I remember had an incredible selection of wine.  The Quays is a great bar and not to be missed while visiting Galway, if only for the ambiance inside.  The arches and stained glass and pews make you feel like you are drinking in a medieval church .  We also went to an amazing seafood restaurant outside of Galway called Morans on the Weir, on the recommendation of a friend who had just visited Ireland.  This place was perfection and I would definitely visit again.  The seafood was yummy and fresh, and the cottage is off the beaten path, overlooking the water.  We really enjoyed it there.

 

Tis Coilis and Neachtans were two other bars that I really enjoyed in Galway.  My friend Suzanna had just been to Galway a few months earlier to photograph a wedding, and she had become friends with bartenders in Tis Coilis who she directed me to stop in and say hi to.  I did, with Melissa, and they were the nicest guys you’d ever met.  Shane pointed out where Suzanna had signed a dollar and taped it to the bar (a tradition that just like in the states,  you’ll notice all over Ireland) and he told me how they had made everyone in the bar believe that Suzanna was a very famous world-wide celebrity photographer and that her signature would be worth a lot someday (a point I’m not disputing since she does kick ass lol).  I signed a dollar and taped it up right next to Suz’s.  It felt good to feel connected to home, even so far away.  Tis Coilis has great live music and a great atmosphere, and I definitely miss this pub and wish I could transport it to where I live now :)

 

Neachtans is a bright blue bar right in the middle of Quay Street that you would have to be blind to miss.  I went there a few times and really liked the old-pub feel of the place.  The first time I went was during the week and so it was quieter and we were able to get seats, but when I went back the 2nd time with Kevin, Marc and Melissa, it was very crowded and we had to stand uncomfortably.  So I would definitely recommend checking this place out, but it’s much better on a quieter night because there’s not a ton of space to move around when it’s crowded.

 

My friend’s cousin (who I have known for years since I used to work for her parents) has been studying in Galway for years, so Kevin and I met up with her and her boyfriend at The Salthouse one night .  This was sort of a hipster bar with a great beer menu.  We got seats by the front window and were chatting between the 4 of us when a guy came in and started hitting on me.  It was odd because we were clearly on a “double date”, and yet he didn’t seem to notice Kevin at all.  He was practically asking me out in front of him, telling me great places we could go in Galway together.  Finally I turned to Kevin and said “What do you think, that place sounds fun, should we go there?”  The guy looked shocked and asked “Are ye courting?”  Trying out my acquired Irish slang, I said “No!  We’re shifting.”  It got a laugh out of everyone and the guy finally moved on and left us alone with our pints.

 

Also not to be missed is a stop into Thomas Dillon’s on Quay Street.  Thomas Dillons is the original claddagh ring designer, and so of course I had to get a ring there.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget walking into the little shop with Kevin with me, who promptly clapped his hands together and asked the adorable old ladies behind the counter where we could find the engagement rings.  I turned ten shades of red while the little ladies behind the desk lit up with excitement, asking if we were really engaged.  Little did they know we had only been dating for a month.  But they were good craic and we had a blast chatting with them.  Thomas Dillons is a great place to buy a special piece of jewelry to commemorate your Ireland trip, and there’s even a tiny claddagh museum in the back of the shop where you can see some original designs and learn about the history of the claddagh.

 

The Galway City Museum will give you a rich history of the city and a place to escape the rain for the afternoon.  You can also visit the Galway Cathedral, which is right over the bridge of the River Corrib and very beautiful, although there was a service going on when I visited and so I couldn’t spend much time inside it.  If it’s not raining (ya know, that one day a year haha) Eyre Square is the place to be, relaxing on the grass with a picnic.  Or you could be daring and jump off the Blackrock diving board in Salthill into Galway Bay… the tide was never in enough for me to do it, or I would have, promise!  I regret not getting a good picture of this while I was in Galway, but quite honestly, I never got a really good weather day while I was there.  No good sunsets, no dramatic skies… sort of just gray all the time.  And WINDY!  I remember walking back to my place in Salthill the first week I was in Galway and literally leaning into the wind.  I mean, LEANING into it.  The wind was literally holding me up, and if it had suddenly stopped I would have fallen flat on my face.  But of course, that didn’t happen, and it was one of the craziest walks I have ever taken.  I couldn’t wait to get back to the house!

 

Here are some photos from my time in Galway.

 

 

 

These are all around Eyre Square...

 

 

 

 

This is the area known as Claddagh, which is on the way out of the city towards Salthill.  There's a little boat basin where you can feed the swans and lots of benches to sit out by the water...

 

 

 

 

Salthill and Salthill Prom...

 

 

Back in the city centre...

 

 

 

 

Inside Tis Coili...

 

 

 

Mel, Marc and I out to dinner in Galway...

 

 

Some more Galway musicians...

 

 

These are the buskers I was talking about, the Atlantic Pirates.  They are AMAZING.  Seriously, some of the best I heard in 3 months in Ireland.  Their videos on YouTube don't even do them justice, but here's one I picked because it was filmed in the same spot I saw them playing :)  Farewell to Carlingford...

 

 

 

 

 

The Galway Cathedral...

 

 

 

I haven't been posting any B&B photos, but our B&B in Galway is worth mentioning because I was obsessed.  Kevin didn't get what I was so smitten with, but it was so eclectic and modern that upon arriving, you could immediately tell that it was run by artists.  And I was right, and they were the cutest couple ever... young and hip and awesome... I just loved the two nights I got to stay at this place!

 

 

This little cottage and beach are out in Spiddal, which is also on the road on the way to the ferry to the Aran Islands...

 

 

 

Our lunch at Morans... HIGHLY RECOMMEND this restaurant if you are passing near Galway!  If I remember correctly it's about a half hour outside the city, in Kilcolgan...

 

 

This is another little town I passed through on the way to Galway called Adare.... I was OBSESSED with this town!  It was adorable and there seemed to be a lot of cute shops and restaurants.  I will admit I didn't get to investigate too much because as you can see, the skies were pretty bad and they literally opened up ferociously on me while I walked through town, but I managed to get a few pics of the cuteness...

 

 

 

So another thing I tried to do on this trip was retrace some of my dad and stepmoms footsteps, who came to Ireland on their honeymoon 20 years ago.  My stepmom had saved some brochures and receipts of places they had gone, and there were a couple of photos I re-enacted at the same places for fun... the photo of me at Doyle's in Dingle, for example, was the same photo/ stance as a picture my stepmom took of my dad 20 years ago.  So when I was plotting out my trip, I made sure to include some stops they made on my itinerary.  This was one of them; the Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara.  I stopped there on my way to Galway and not only was it a crap weather day (shocker!) but it was closed.  Wah wah.  But I walked around the outside of the castle, and of course took a selfie there to show my dad and stepmom :)

 

 

 

Downtown Kinvara...

 

 

So as I had mentioned, I was lucky enough to meet some awesome photographers, and one of them invited me out to her farm for an overnight.  On the way from Galway to where she lived we stopped to see her horse (who isn't pictured) and we roamed around the pasture a bit.  She caught some snaps of me and my new horse friends...

 

 

 

These were actually on Melissa's farm... and apparently I'm trying to high five a cow in one of these... casual...

 

 

 

I'll never forget, as we were walking into the barn, Melissa's 10-year-old daughter, Lilly, was walking with me and telling me about the farm.  I saw a dead baby lamb resting on a slab outside the barn and I almost lost it and said something like "Oh god, oh no..."  and Lilly saw what I was looking at.  She looked at me with more wisdom and grace than I had when I was 10 (and probably more than I have now) and said "Yes, it's very sad.  Sometimes it happens on a farm like this.  They don't always make it through the rough weather.  But unfortunately death is a part of life... sometimes the hardest part."  It was so sweet, so smart, and so eloquently put, I wanted to hug her.  She completely restored my faith in Irish children, who up until that point weren't winning any major brownie points with me lol.

 

I'll end with my favorite set, which would CLEARLY be me bottle feeding sheep.  Oh god, I die.  This was epic.

 

 

Next up, two of my favorite places in all of Ireland... Doolin and Westport!