I woke around 5:30 thanks to my jetlag. I was surprised to receive a text from my sister Nathalie who had arrived this morning. So we were on schedule to drive to Galway and spend a day there.
After she arrived, we had breakfast with Tammy while briefly catching up. Then we jumped into our rental and headed to the west coast. ROAD TRIP!
The drive was easy and offered some great scenery of endless green fields and farms. I only had to get use to driving on the left.
We booked a hotel on the way and after two hours we arrived. The Corrib Village, which we thought was some kind of resort, was more like a college dorm that was rented out. So I guess we were back on campus.
After dropping off our stuff, we jumped into the car, drove to and parked in the center of Galway. Finding a nice eatery, Revive Cafe, we had a filling lunch and coffee before setting off.
We started our tour at Eyre Square smack in the middle of the city. The square was an open block surrounded by shops and pubs. It was named after Mayor Edward Eyre who opened this square in 1710. There is also a park, interestingly named “Kennedy Memorial Park” after US president JFK visited Galway.
Then we walked down Market Street, which seemed to be the most popular tourist street of the city. There were many buskers and street performers lining the streets in front of the restaurants and pubs.
St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church
We came across the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, which was nestled between the chaotic street and a market. This medieval parish church was built in the early 14th century and dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of mariners. The inside didn’t have much to look at as the walls were very bare.
Continuing towards the bay we came upon the waterfront. The River Corrib’s current was strong, giving the swans a good workout. Near the banks, is the Spanish Arch, built in 1584 as part of the city walls. The name is thought to have come from the trade with Spanish merchants in the 1800s. There was a harp playing busker under the arch bringing us back into a land of fantasy.
Right behind the arches is the Galway City Museum, opened in 1974 originally. The museum showcases the history of Galway City and also has temporary exhibits of artwork on three floors. The windows overlooking the river also offer some nice views of the city. Entrance is free.
After going through the museum, we headed back to the car since there was a constant threat of being “clamped” if the parking meter runs out. Fortunately we were only 20 mins late and not clamped.
National University of Ireland NUI
We drove to the next stop, the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway. It was built in the 1840s and has an impressive campus right next to the Corrib River overlooking the Cathedral. The ivy covered limestone quadrangle was beautiful and made for some nice photo-ops. Nice campus to study on.
Then we went over to the Galway Cathedral right next door. The Cathedral’s dome dominates the skyline and was very impressive to see from the inside. It was constructed between 1958 and 1965 making it the newest large cathedral in Europe. Like most churches, it was free to enter. The were quite a few people in prayer and a sermon was starting when we walked through, so it was a bit awkward to snap pictures. But we did anyway.
Next we drove to Salthill, a coastal suburb, a few miles from the center of Galway. The stretch of road had amusement parks, casinos, pubs, shops, and other attractions. Galway bay’s waterfront was mostly rocky but some areas had sand beaches where some brave souls were swimming in the freezing water. We walked the whole length of the promenade, which was about 2 miles or so. At the end was a cool diving platform from the 50s. There were plenty of locals having their turn at jumping and diving into the icy water. Some had wetsuits, while others had blue lips.
We then stopped at a cafe for a beer and some internet. It was nice to sit down and relax for a bit before headed back into town for dinner.
We picked one of the restaurants, The Quay Street Kitchen, on the tourist street for a terrific seafood dinner. We had mussels, crab legs, and salmon with a glass of white while chatting and people watching from our patio seats.
After dinner we walked along the street to see why the nightlife was so famous in Galway. It seems that the drinking and partying just pours out onto the streets and the center becomes a huge connected party. People hang out with a Guinness in hand while chatting up the opposite sex. It was also nice that it didn’t get dark until 10:30pm.
As we had a long day tomorrow it was back to Corrib Village for us, where we quickly passed out in our dorm beds.
Great day in Galway!