Galway Tour Company
We did the Connemara and Cong Tour with Galway Tour Company and had a great time. I had emailed the company beforehand and they picked us up right at our hotel. Our tour guide was Ken and he was a great guide. Throughout the tour, he told us stories about the history and culture of the Connemara region, while cracking jokes and answering questions. He was very personable and friendly, as well as knowledgeable about the region. Our first stop was Ross Errilly Friary, a 14th century ruins, where we had about 15 minutes to explore. Then we headed to Cong for about an hour. Cong is most famous as the setting of the 1950s John Wayne movie The Quiet Man. Here, I walked around the quaint little town and got some pictures of the old Abbey and Cong Woods. Our next big stop was Kylemore Abbey, but along the way we made a couple short photo stops at Lough Nafooey and Killary Harbour. Kylemore Abbey was the highlight of the tour. The cost of admission was not included, but we got a discounted group rate. The abbey and grounds were absolutely beautiful! We visited in June when the rhododendron were blooming and this was definitely among the highlights of our trip to Ireland. On the way back, we made one more quick stop at Inagh Valley and then headed back to Galway. Overall, a great tour and great guide. If we returned, I would definitely consider Galway Tour Company for some of their other tours to see a little more of the region.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Historical Travel
Follow your nose around Galway.
I enjoyed the walk along the riverside to Spanish Arch and the Long Walk, then coming back through the lanes to the market and just picking up the odd thing to see here and there. A nice atmosphere amid the shoppers on a Saturday morning.
The Spanish gate built in 1584 and part of 4 original arches was an extension of the city walls and provided a way onto the new quays and as a protection for ships. There are only two arches left now after a tidal wave created near Lisbon in 1755 partially destroyed the wall. The Galway city museum sits into part of the wall.
A narrow canal runs alonside the Corrib and provides calmer waters for the many ducks along here.
Take in the market.
The Galway market has been operating along the same narrow streets for literally hundreds of years, but strangely only the weekend. Fine friendly barrow boys (my wife got a couple of free oysters for comparing with Cancale's) ready for a chat and a laugh. You can also find sushi and vegetarian foods.
Hours - Sat 8.00am - 18.00
- Sun 14.00 - 18.00
The Christmas market is open now until Monday 24th December every day.
Walk the riverside, Galway.
The Corrib river come down under 4 bridges in the city of Galway before finishing in Galway Bay. There is an excellent promenade alongside the river from the Salmon weir down to Bridge street, the majority on a new walkway away from the traffic.Of course you can carry on walking even further down past Spanish Arch to the bay. Numerous wild birds to see along here and tamer ones like ducks and swans.
Galway City Museum
Admission to the museum is free. Situated in a newish looking building near the Spanish Arch, Galway's museum is an interesting browse of Galway's history and connections to the seas. The building also features an art gallery with excellent views over the bay and the river. The museum is not very large and cannot compete with Dublin's more comprehensive museums but it is still worth a look.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Please join a fellow Vt'er
Yes, it's true you really can meet 'Sourbugger' in the flesh leading walking tours around the city.
Of course my tour is somewhat different - beheadings murders, bubonic plague, famine and murder are the order of the day with 'Gore of Galway'.
Just pop-in to the tourist information office in Forster Street.
If you are a VT member please be sure to come along and introduce yourself.Related to:
Take the Canal Walk
Starting in 1848, the city of Galway designed and built its first system of canals. The city built a second system in the 1950s. The purposes of the canals were to divert and control the water from the River Corrib, to harness its power for mills and electricity generation, and to provide a navigable shipping route to the sea. There are walkways around the canals -- and it is nice place to take a stroll.
See the Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch is on the left bank of the River Corrib -- close to where the river meets the sea. The arch is the remainder of a 16th century bastion which was added to the town's walls. Despite the name, there is no evidence that the Spanish had a role in building the arch. However, the name probably was derived from the Spanish merchants who often visited Galway -- and docked their ships near the bastion for protection against looting. At the time, Galway was famous for its involvement in the wine trade, particularly Spanish wines.
Watch the Fast-Flowing River Corrib
The River Corrib flows from Lough Corrib through Galway City to Galway Bay. The river is among the shortest in Europe, with only a length of six kilometres from Lough Corrib to the Atlantic Ocean. What the river lacks in size, though, it makes up for in intensity. You really need to see the fast-moving River Corrib in person to appreciate it.
Go to the Discover Ireland Centre
On Forster Street, there is a large tourist information office called the Discover Ireland Centre. It is only a few blocks from Eyre Square -- and it was very close to my hotel. The centre is open all year round, and there are tourist advisors who can provide helpful information about Galway and the rest of western Ireland.
When I visited, I spoke to an advisor about my tour options. After that discussion, I purchased a half-day bus tour of the Cliffs of Moher by Healy Tours for 20 Euros. I have written more about this tour in the Off The Beaten Path section.
Visit Eyre Square/John F. Kennedy Memorial Park
In the Galway city centre, there is a square public park. The plot was officially presented to the city in 1710 by Mayor Edward Eyre, from whom the park originally took its name. In 1965, the square was officially renamed "John F. Kennedy Memorial Park". There is a memorial to President John F. Kennedy on the spot where he addressed the people of Galway on 29 June 1963 shortly before his assassination in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963. Despite the official name change, the park is still mostly referred to as Eyre Square.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the visit to Galway by President Kennedy. In part, the significance is due to the strong connection between Ireland and the United States as a result of the large number of emigrants. As the first US President of Irish Catholic descent, President Kennedy was a great source of pride for the people of the Republic of Ireland.
Galway's street of sin
There is small cross street that runs alongside St Augustine's church. It's rather charming that next to a house of God stands a collection of buildings that stimulate the senses in quite different ways to that which might be obtained inside the eccesiastical confines. From Nave to navel gazeing, you might say. Aristotle might add that it swapping higher pleasures fot lower ones !
Lets's begin at one end with the pleasure of the coffee bean. The Cafe Luna serves one of the best cups of the stuff in Galway, and you can sit outside. Next comes (and I choose my words carefully) 'Utopia' with its array of dirty videos and dodgy cosumes. I won't comment on what particular lower pleasure is satisfied there. Then there is the Tulsi restaurant producing decent curry - my particular vice of choice. Finally the Galway head shop caters for those who like an extra little kick in the ciggarettes - if you get my drift. But this is not Amsterdam, so it is a case of selling everything but the vital ingredient.
Which side of the street is yours, eh ?
The Murmur project
The murmur project is an oral storytelling project that has begun in a number of cities worldwide. The one in toronto, for example, seems to be quite successful.
The system works as follows - you find green 'speach bubble' sign attached to a lampost or similar structure in the town. This then gives you a freephone number that connects to a recording telling you about the place of significance and stories about it. Sounds a great idea, although if it is any good the local tourist guides won't be best pleased !
The website listed will show the sites, and also the stories that have been recorded. There are about 14 such post already up in Galway with more to follow.
Just a little off the top please...
The King's head pub stands on the main street and dates from 1649. It is a great pub to visit with good music, food and beer.
For years I didn't realise the significance of the name and the date - but then I got wise !
In 1649 Oliver Cromwell was in power in England, and he needed the previous king, Charles 1st executed. The normal executioner refused, and the story goes that no Englishman could be found to do the deed. Eventually two soilders from Galway offered to do the job called Gunning and Dear. Gunning was selected. One of the last things that Charles 1st was reputed to have said was "How does my hair look ?", well it takes allsorts I suppose.
With the benefit of a mask, Gunning performed the beheading in Whitewall, London. His reward was to be given the land that the King's head stands on. Being a good Irishman, the first thing he did was build a pub !
Some features of the pub remain to this day.
An investigation was held on the restoration of the monarchy into who the executioner was. He was never caught although some in Galway claim that Gunning's business partner got him drunk one evening and Gunning admitted that his right arm was so strong because it was the one that cut of the King's head. His partner then blackmailed him over several years until he had all of the business to himself. They tell you the same story in the pub itself, except the names change. I'm convinced the above version has more historical evidence, but no-one really knows the full truth of the matter.
P.S He wasn't however stupid enough to call the pub the 'King's head' in 1649, the name is only about 100-150 years old.
This is the name given to the area on the west bank of the Corrib's estuary, between it and the Bay beach.
Formerly a fishing community, now an open area.
You get great views across to the colourful old houses on the opposite bank, and back up towards the river and the city.
Also "home" to many swans - unusually tame!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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