Galway is famous, amongst other things, for Claddagh rings.
The Claddagh itself was an area of the town, near to where the river enters the sea. Nowadays it is an open grassy area that is worth a short walk from town - especially when that invigorating Atlantic breeze is blowing.
The full story of the history of this particular type of celtic jewelry can be found at the website listed below.
I won't recommend a particular shop - as it comes down to personal taste, but there are several to choose from.
What to buy: Rings start at less than 30 Euro and go up to several thousand. They can also be incorporated into bridal crowns and stuff.
All the major usual suspects fill this shopping centre, plus a few of the larger Irish chains such as Penny's and Dunnes stores.
I can quite happily by-pass the whole lot of them, but I must applaud the designers of the centre who have very cleverly created a 60-shop centre without majorly affecting the surrounding area. I believe the main site was a former timber yard, that also included at stretch of 14th century medieval wall, with a couple of houses. These have been integrated into the design and the wall actually used as part of the structural support for the roof.
Just like their American counterparts the Irish love their shopping malls. The Eyre Square Centre has tons of great shopping and also features a supermarket. There is a parking garage under the mall and My wife found some great prints for the house. It's also a great oasis during a downpour.
What to buy: Clothes, tourist trinkets, and everything else. There is also a supermarket with butcher shop on premesis.
What to pay: Normal prices I suppose.
The Treasure Chest was established in 1966 by Mary Bennett. The Business expanded in 1986 we moved to a larger premises on William Street in Galway's main shopping street. It is undoubtedly the most stylish addition to the Heart of Galway. The former Glynn's store has been extensively refurbished both inside and out in the most tasteful fashion and boasts the finest of China, Crystal and Ladies Fashions in Galway.
The Bennett Family have taken every care to ensure that not only are the products best quality to be found but also presented in a way which shows them to there best.
The Ground floor hosts a selection of China, Crystal, Pottery, Figurines, Linen and Irish Products.
The First floor hosts a selection of International Designer Labels from St. John, Basler, Jobis, Lacoste and Condici
What to buy: Waterford Crystal
What to pay: Cash, Debit Card, Credit Card.....
Galway Crystal makes some nice nice products and since my wife's family lives about 15 minutes away from the factory we have a nice collection. The factory store is in Merlin Park in Galway and the buliding has free parking, and features a modest showroom, a museum, and a cafe upstairs.
What to buy: What else... crystal! They also sell china products.
What to pay: They had a sale and my wife finished off our dining room collection with 12 watergoblets and 6 wine glasses for $ 168.00
Even if you don't want to buy anything from the centre's various specialty shops, going inside is a must! A section of Galway's old city walls was incorporated into the building, and the combination of old and new works surprisingly well.
This excellent book shop is a rather odd mixture of remaindered stock and secondhand material.
Unlike most other shops that sell remaindered stock the quality of stuff here is very high as it is weighted towards serious and academic books. Many are American in origin and thus will not turn up very often in other bookshops.
It is especially good for books on Iralnd arts, culture and history.
I always seem to spend a couple of hours in this place every time I visit.
What to buy: Over 40,000 books in the store - there must be something for you.
What to pay: Keenly priced. I recently bought a Hardback copy of MrCarthy's journey for 8 euro when the cover price was 24 pounds sterling !
In the Galway city centre, there is a large pedestrian zone where motor vehicle traffic is restricted. This pedestrian zone includes William Street, Shop Street, High Street, Mainguard Street and Quay Street. There are a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and pubs in this area -- and the atmosphere is also great for people-watching.
It would be all to easy to make a whole string of unsubtle comments about the availability of tarts in Galway, wouldn't it ?
So I will resist the temptation and just point out that this little deli is an absolute wonder.
The shop is so well presented that you wonder if it is an interior design shop rather than a food shop.
Last stop of my day trip to Kylemore abbey, Connemara and Leenane was here on Standun located 10 miles west of Galway city on the coast road to Connemara. You will find top quality Irish fashion & knitwear, crystal, china, jewellery and crafts. They have built their reputation on stocking a collection of the finest Ireland has to offer. And after shopping you can have a cold o hot drink on the coffee shop located on the back of the shop and you can enjoy with the view of the Galway bay.
What to buy: Aran Knitwear.
What to pay: By cash, by debit and credit card
Liam may not be the most of Italian names at the best of times, but his partner ‘Maria’ definitely has a more latin flavour to it. Together they have taken on the franchise for an Olio and Farina shop. Located in Upper Abbeygate street the shop blends in perfectly with the upmarket bohemian and boutiquey feel of the area.
They sell a range of upmarket foodstuffs from Italy from olive oils to whole hams, pastas, cheeses, olives and the like. They also have an excellent selection of Italian wine. Prices are obviously higher than the local supermarket (and in Ireland you often need a second mortgage for the weekly Tesco shop), but for a few specialist items or a touch of luxury on your plate then these are the guys. Snob value ? Certainly.
The very well displayed shop also features a café at the rear which I have yet to try, but with ingredients that good it would be difficult to make a pig’s ear of it.
The world famous designer Philip Treacy hails from this neck of the woods.
He is most famous for some of his totally 'mad' hats that adorn catwalks and society functions everywhere.
I am surprised that he hasn't opened a shop in the town, but some of his more toned-down creations can be found in places like the Galway hat-shop that lies on the lowest floor of the Eyre Square shopping centre.
What to buy: er...a hat
What to pay: too much
Lots of local craft, perfect for gifts. Interesting jewerly and art.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, hot doughnuts and crepes.
Cds, flowers, sunglasses, clothes, books. Theres lots of little stalls selling all kinds of different things.
What to buy: Hand made jewerly and other hand made crafts like pretty fairies made from wire. Lots of hemp made products for a unique present to someone.
What to pay: Some perople will go down a bit in price but dont expect too much reduction.
Charlie Byrne's bookshop in Galway has new, used and antique books, and they carry many out-of-print and difficult to find books.
Since they are located in Galway, they have especially many books on Irish topics.
A friend of mine, Emily, works there.
What to buy: Books of any kind.
The Four Corners sells both recorded Irish and Celtic music and musical instruments. Aside from the usual guitars, drums, etc., the store specializes in traditional Irish instruments, like bodhrans, fiddles and tin flutes.
What to buy: They have a great selection of folk music (even non-irish folk) as well as a nice collection of sheet music. The small bodhran and tin flute kits seem geared towards kids and make cute souvenirs. The real draw here for the amateur player are the standard sized bodhrans. If you have any inclination to bring one home, this is the place! Not profession quality (although they have them, too) but for 30 euro, these ones were pretty good.