The medieval city of Galway (Gaillimh), on Ireland’s western seaboard, has long been seen as a place to go for a great time. Small, intimate, chock-full of character and live music venues, it lends itself perfectly to that most Irish of pursuits, the legendary craic, or simply having fun with friends.
Best Time to Visit
April through August is the best time to visit for those who like it warm. May has the most sunshine. You don’t travel to Galway for the weather, whenever you go.
Top Places to Visit in Galway
1. Eyre Square
It makes perfect sense for visitors to start here at the bustling town center. Eyre Square, dating from the 18th century, is now landscaped as a memorial to U.S. President J. F. Kennedy who was of Irish descent. On the northwest side stands Browne’s Gateway, the doorway of an old patrician mansion, which has been re-erected here. There’s a striking monument to the Irish language poet Pádraic O’Conaire (1882-1923), who is represented sitting on a rock. West of Eyre Square there’s a modern shopping center of the same name, which has become a popular meeting place. Be sure to stroll along atmospheric Shop Street (continues on from Williamsgate Street just off Eyre Square), which, weather permitting, is generally brimming with buskers and avant-garde street performers.
2. Lynch’s Castle
Arguably, many would think it now sad that this fine town castle, originally dating from the 14th century and the finest of its kind in Ireland, is now a bank. However, the external structure is beautifully preserved.
3. St. Nicholas’ Church
Around a minutes’ stroll from Lynch’s Castle on Market Street is Anglican/Episcopal St. Nicholas’ Church. It was built in the 14th century and although much altered in later centuries, has preserved the aspect of a medieval parish church. The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus), patron saint of children and mariners. Exterior highlights are the gargoyles, which are rarely seen in Ireland, and the triple gables of the west front. Inside are tombs and a reader’s desk. Throughout the centuries, famous people have visited St. Nicholas, including Christopher Columbus who worshipped here in 1477.
4. Galway Cathedral
A short eight-minute walk from St. Nicholas’ takes visitors to Galway Cathedral overlooking the River Corrib. Those interested in James Joyce may wish to make a stop en-route at the smallest museum in Ireland, Nora Barnacle’s House (Nora was Joyce’s wife). Built in the late 1950s, the cathedral was and is the youngest of Europe’s grand stone cathedrals. The cathedral also displays a superb collection of art, including a large Crucifixion mosaic by Patrick Pollen, beautiful rose windows, and a statue of the Virgin by Imogen Stuart. Open daily 8.30am-6.30pm
5. The Cliffs of Moher
Many would say that no visit to Ireland would be complete without seeing the Cliffs of Moher. Starring in countless images of the emerald isle, the cliffs are quite simply breathtaking, wild, rugged, and utterly vertigo-inducing. Rising 214 metres high, they stretch for eight kilometers along the Atlantic coast of County Clare. Weather permitting, visitors can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay from these wind-lashed cliffs as well as many of Ireland’s other distinctive geographical features. Near the highest point, O’Brien’s Tower is the perfect spot to soak up the incredible views. Open year round from 9am (visitor center closed December 24th-26th), seasonal closing.