*plays Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran*
With a chill finally in the air here in Charleston, it has me thinking of the most perfect fall vacation ever – my trip to Ireland. I know I’ve previously talked about my time in Dublin on the blog (you can find that post here), but actually, my favorite city that we saw when in Ireland was Galway. The locals were friendly, kind, and always happy to grab a pint with you.
If any of you are planning on heading to Ireland soon, I hope you consider heading to Galway and doing a few of the things that made Galway so special to me. Check them out below:
A tiny little jewelry shop that’s so quaint and low-key that you just might pass it, Thomas Dillon’s on Quay St. is home to the makers of the original claddagh ring. Dating back to the 1700’s, claddagh rings represent love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). The way that these rings are worn also hold meaning. If worn on the right hand with the heart pointing out, the person is said to be unattached. If worn on the right hand with the heart pointing towards the body, the person is said to be in a relationship. If worn on the left hand with the heart pointing out, the person is said to be engaged. And if worn on the left hand with the heart pointing towards the body, the person is said to be married. I strongly suggest a stop here to buy a little piece of history.
The Salthill Prom
If you’re looking for a break from pub after pub after pub, this scenic path is perfect. The Salthill Prom (short for promenade) is just over a mile long and one of the best places in Galway to relax and take in all the charm of the area. I definitely suggest renting a bike, as you’ll want to see the whole thing, but not spend the whole day there.
Day Trip to Connemara
Get ready to see tons of sheep. This awesome tour through Connemara takes you to Kylemore Abbey and Cong. The first stop is at Kylemore Abbey, where you’ll get a chance to tour the Abbey, the church, and the amazing gardens. (Be ready for a photo shoot because the scenery is too pretty to pass the opportunity up!) Once you make it to Cong, be sure to explore the charming town on foot and stop in to see the iconic Pat Cohan Bar from “The Quiet Man,” where you should grab a pint and a quick bite to eat before heading back to Galway. You can buy tickets here.
Cupán Tae Room
The absolute cutest place for some afternoon tea in Galway. Finger sandwiches, tiny cakes, pastries and more, this was such a relaxing and enjoyable experience. And I definitely suggest upgrading to the VIP package (aka champagne) for just a few euro more. Make your reservations ahead of time as they can get quite busy, and be sure to sign the guestbook before you leave!
Tig Coili (pictured above)
Tig Coili is the best of the best when it comes to the pubs in Galway. Hands down, our best memories made happened at this pub. We walked in from the cold to a warm, loud and cheerful bar room packed full of locals and tourists alike. There were a few locals playing some traditional music and two young kids trying their hand at some Irish dancing for the crowd – it was exactly what you imagine a pub in Ireland to be. We met the best people here, and ordered one too many Galway Hookers – don’t worry, that’s the name of the local beer!
Day Trip to Cliffs of Moher
Honestly, what’s a trip to Ireland without a trip to the Cliffs? The Cliffs of Moher have the unique ability to make you feel so small, yet so big at the same time. You’re overcome with the beauty of it (I may have welled up a bit), and you just feel so free. The wind was whipping that day and there was mist clouding the view for most of the time we were there, but then for just a minute or two each time, it would clear and we’d be blown away once again. Though the Cliffs are the big-ticket item on the agenda for this tour, we also made a pit stop in Doolin for a traditional pub lunch (get the Guinness Stew!), and a quick detour to Kilfenora for a bathroom break, a church tour and to raid the CD racks for ceili music souvenirs. You can find your tickets here.
Buy an Aran Sweater
Okay, so it’s technically not an actual attraction or place to visit in Galway, but buying a traditional Aran Sweater is a must if you’re visiting! There’s a great online shop here if you’re interested. They’re so gorgeous, and will keep you toasty warm in even the coldest weather! (They also make amazing gifts, just FYI.)
Basically a JFK memorial park (he’s everywhere in Ireland), Eyre Square seems to be a hub in Galway. Plenty of locals around, little carts with food, and even a full-on festival with rides and stages was going on while we were there. Since most of the buses in Galway end up making a stop at the square on their routes, you’ll definitely be able to see it at one point or another during your time there.
If you’re ever headed to Galway, be sure to check at least a few of these places out – and pack me in your suitcase, because I’m dying to go back!