Galway is a bustling hotbed of activity, and nowhere is this more true than in the central hub of Eyre Square. All roads in the city seem to lead to the place, where buskers play to passers-by and folks soak up the sun on summer days. If you do find yourself blessed with some sunshine, pick up a picnic from the Galway Farmer’s Market (open weekends and bank holidays) and join the revelries. Come nightfall, duck into one of the nearby pubs for a pint of Galway Hooker and a spot of trad.
There’s probably no experience more akin to time travel than a jaunt to the Aran Islands. This collection of wild, windswept isles is filled with the kind of nostalgic sights equated with historical Ireland – thatched white cottages, pony and traps and ramshackle stone walls. Inis Mor is the largest of the islands, where you’ll find the world heritage site of Dun Aonghasa Fort. If you fancy a quieter, more authentic island experience then catch the boat to Inis Meain, or Inis Oirr, the smallest island.
Details: Catch the ferry to any of the islands above from Galway Bay with Aran Island Ferries (http://www.aranislandferries.com).
In the summer, it seems there isn’t a week that goes by without a festival in Galway. There’s the Galway Hooker Festival in May, the internationally renowned Galway International Arts Festival in July, and the Oyster Festival in September. And aside from the big names, there are plenty of more niche events, like the Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival and the Connemara Pony Festival.
Details: Check out Galway Tourism for an up to date calendar of events.
There’s a real distinctiveness to the landscape you see in Co. Galway. The rock-strewn fields, the purple hued heather and the windswept panoramas are all synonymous with the county. And you see them best in Connemara. You’ll find an abundance of wildlife within the national park, but the creature that everyone wants to see is the beautiful Connemara pony, which you’ll find grazing the land.
Details: Walking loop routes are available on the Connemara National Park website.
Overlooking the Spanish Arch, another hotspot for summer lounging, is the Galway City Museum. Inside, you’ll find exhibits detailing the history of the city, with areas dedicated to the GAA, prehistoric Galway and the dancehall days. There’s also information about Galway in the movies and Pádraic Ó Conaire. Keep an eye on the website for events such as workshops, talks and frequent drawing classes for all ages.
Details: Admission is free.
The shore it sits on is almost as beautiful as the castle itself. Dunguaire was built in 1520 and restored in 1924 by Oliver St. John Gogarty, where it became a meeting spot for such illustrious writers as WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Edward Martin. Today, the castle is open to visitors and tells the story of life through the ages of the castle, right back to 1520. In the summer months, you can even book in for a castle banquet, where you’ll enjoy entertainment and locally sourced food.
Details: Online tickets are €6 for adults, €2.95 for children.