Glorious Galway the jewel in Ireland's crown
Dublin’s nightlife is famous for a reason, and I was happy to prove to my boyfriend that Irish people are not alcoholics who get into fights, rather that we know how to have fun just like everyone else. Okay, maybe more.
Call me biased, but I do believe the ‘real’ Ireland, and the best of Ireland is in Galway.
I spent three years there in University and I miss it dearly. It is Ireland at it’s finest, with the best of scenery, pubs, theater, music, and shopping, all packed into a neat little accessible city.
The cobblestones and the talented buskers on Shop Street have been there forever, and that won’t change, recession or boom. The newly renovated Eyre Square is modern yet discreet, and the façade of the buildings around the square are clean but old. I know Galway city from top to bottom, but it never ceases to impress me.
The city is more like a town, and having the stunning University campus in the heart of the city ensures that creativity and energy flow in the air. One in every five people on the street is a student, and this is what makes the city the liveliest and most exciting city in Ireland.
The narrow streets are filled with pubs and restaurants, and lead down to the Claddagh. We all know about the Claddagh rings, but we don’t all know where their inspiration came from.
The Claddagh is where the Corrib River meets Galway Bay. It’s truly stunning, with swans on the water, and on a nice day (a dry day) people will have picnics around the water. It’s one of the oldest former fishing villages in Ireland, and the Spanish Arch across the water, where the fish markets were once held, is rather romantic.
We walked along the ocean road to the ‘prom’ – the Promenade leading out of the city towards Salthill, where jogging housewives, strolling lovers, and elderly people sitting on benches are to be seen. Walking along the mile of pavement that is the ‘prom’, with the ocean splashing against the massive rocks, the spray of the Atlantic on your face, and the freshness of the air, is a feel good moment if ever there was one.
As for the apartments in Salthill overlooking the prom….If they’re good enough for Martin Sheen (who lived there while attending NUI, Galway) they’re good enough for anyone! The restaurants in Galway are the best – McDonagh’s fish and chips are world famous and rightly so. The trendy G Hotel’s steak is a winner, but nothing beats The Pullman Inn. A restaurant in a train. Yes, a restaurant in a train.
The train is the old Orient Express. Gold and mahogany are two words that spring to mind, but do it no justice. The restaurant is located at the breathtaking Glenlo Abbey Hotel, a five star castle hotel, located on sprawling immaculate golf course. The food is as unique and perfect as the location.
This is an experience I will remember forever, and is not to be missed by anyone who visits Ireland. We said goodbye to Galway City and headed out for the Wild West – the rugged, barren, bleak but beautiful landscape Yeats once referred to as a ‘terrible beauty’.