Galway City, Co. Galway
Galway (official Irish name: Gaillimh) is the only city in the province of Connacht in Ireland and capital of County Galway. The city takes its name from the Gaillimh river (River Corrib) that formed the western boundary of the earliest settlement, which was called Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe, or the fort at the bottom of the Gaillimh. The word Gaillimh means "stony" as in "stony river". The city also bears the nickname City of the Tribes / Cathair na dTreabh, because fourteen "Tribes" (merchant families) led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period.
Galway is a vibrant, youthful city, it is a is a place of colour, charm, character and contrast, with an international reputation for exceptional foods - notably the native Irish oysters, which are a speciality of the Clarenbridge area and celebrated at the annual Oyster Festival there in September. The area is renowned for its seafood, especially shellfish, and speciality produce of all kinds - including local cheeses, fruit and vegetables, and specialities that do the rounds of other markets around the country - is on sale at the famous city centre Saturday Market. Restaurants in the area showcase local produce, and - although there is at present no major dining destination here - there are many good places to eat in both city and county.
The fastest growing city in The European Community, Galway today confidently beckons you to the most lively, liveable city in Ireland. With a population if 60,000, it has become the third city of Ireland after Dublin and Cork.
Galway is a compact city and easy to explore on foot. Start your explorations in Eyre Square. This city centre square is home to two cannons from the Crimean war and a statue of the Galway-born writer Padraic O’Conaire. Stroll down William Street and Shop Street – the main routes into the city’s bustling “Latin Quarter.” The 16th century town house known as Lynch’s Castle stands on the corner of Shop Street and Abbeygate Street Upper. Now a bank, it was once the home of one of Galway’s most powerful ruling families – the Lynches. Shop Street is also home to Galway’s finest medieval building – the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas. It is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland still in use. Stroll along the old quays and check out the 16th century Spanish Arch. Galway was originally protected by city walls and The Arch appears to have been constructed in order for ships to come into the harbour and unload their goods – often wine and brandy from Spain.
If you feel like a swim or the thrill of the dodgems, head for Salthill, an old-fashioned seaside resort just west of the city. A trip to the famous Druid theatre is well worth it. There’s a great market on Saturday mornings beside St. Nicholas’s church selling everything from vegetables to paintings.
Galway is also the gateway to Connemara – a region of spectacular beauty lying west of the city. A trip here is an absolute must.