After a delicious taste of whiskey and fried cod, we made our way to Galway for a three night stay. We had so much fun roaming the compact downtown area between Eyre Square and the Lower Corrib River. Brick streets and alleys are lined with classic shop fronts and well-kept pubs.
No surprise – we sipped many a whiskey at several of those pubs! At night, most pubs also had traditional music sessions or other types of live music. In retrospect, Galway was the best town we visited in terms of the traditional music scene. It’s also Danyell’s favorite Irish town that we visited.
The shopping was quite good as well, as we picked up some of our best souvenirs and gifts on William and High Streets. That’s actually just one street, but the Irish like to change street names fairly often to keep things interesting, much more so than I’ve seen in the US. For good measure, that same street is also called Shop Street in between William and High, before being called Quay Street and ending at the waterfront. That’s four names within about one-quarter mile! Thankfully that quarter-mile is closed to vehicles most of the time, so we didn’t have to worry about getting confused while driving. That street changes names several times in the other direction as well.
I took a bunch of photos in that area, both during the day and at night. These were taken across the three days and nights that we were in Galway:
The Park House Hotel in Galway was very nice, and it was in a great location
Right across the street from our hotel was Murty Rabbitt’s, an awesome pub that was founded in 1872 as by an Irishman that had previously struck it rich in the San Francisco gold rush! It was in this pub, that a nice ‘ol Irish man shuffled up and introduced himself to Danyell with “we should run away together.” It took her a few times of “huh? what?” before she finally understood what he was saying. She was flattered, but he didn’t offer to buy drinks, so she wasn’t having it.
Sweet brass draft dispensing station branded with the pub name
Excellent traditional music sessions every night! Murty Rabbitt’s was less crowded than most other pubs at the Shop/High area, allowing for a better appreciation of the music.
A perfect pint of Guinness at Murty Rabbitt’s, almost looks plastic!
This is Danyell’s weak attempt at a Guinness mustache. Also a weak attempt at pretending that she likes Guinness. She quickly switched back to a whiskey neat. Gotta give her credit for trying.
The An Púcán pub was also right across from our hotel. The music was mostly classic rock and pop while we were in town, but the bands set up in a boat. Look at that band… IN A BOAT! An Púcán translates from Irish into “The Boat”, and indeed that there is a restored traditional fishing boat known as a “Galway hooker”. Missing is its distinctive reddish brown sail, but that obviously would not fit under that low ceiling.
These banners on Eyre Square represent the 14 tribes of Galway – merchant families that dominated Galway from the 1200s through the 1800s.
I love that the street signs are both English and Irish, not just in Galway, but all over Ireland on both historic and modern signs. Some areas of Ireland even have signs in Irish only due to the government’s efforts to preserve the Irish language.
Center of the action! Several of the most popular pubs in Galway are located around this intersection of Shop/High/Mainguard.
They turn diamonds into huge, fancy flower boxes!
I’m a little confused, but I’m cool with “The Bunch of Grapes” having a Jameson logo.
Faller’s Sweater Shop rocks! Danyell bought an awesome Irish-designed purse for herself here.
Sonny’s Public House on High Street
Love this couple checking out the menu at McDonagh’s. It’s a chippie on the left side (fast food environment that serves fish & chips, etc), and a regular restaurant on the right. Very popular and busy in the evenings.
Menu for the chippie side of McDonagh’s. If I hadn’t been on a mission to try as much fish & chips as possible, I would have been ALL OVER that plain foot long sausage wiener with fries!
Griffin’s Bakery on Shop Street. Apparently they offer rush delivery! (click for prints)
- High Street!
Found the front door! Or since the F is backwards, is it actually the back door?
Vibrant paint colors all around! Well-kept, too.
Neachtain’s Pub (aka Naughton’s) at High & Cross Streets. Vibrant colors, mural, and Irish lettering. Love it all!
They know how to do “purdy” in Galway. (click for prints)
“The Quays” is a fantastic pub near the end of Quay Street with medieval church décor and an international reputation for quality traditional Irish music.
- Quay Street!
“The Dáil Bar” ~ Located on the corner of Lower Cross and Middle Street in Galway, this large pub is named after the lower house of the Irish parliament and has a beautiful façade, including a large clock with “17:59” painted under it – a nod to the year that Guinness was founded. “Dáil” is pronounced as “doyle”.
“Ceol Agus Ól” ~ A very inviting traditional music sign at the Spanish Arch Bar & Grill on Quay Street. Pronounced “kyol ah-gus ole” It translates to “Music and Drinks”. Sounds good to me!
“Murphy’s Bar” ~That sure is a nice street number, there on High Street in Galway!
The Kings Head on High Street. Legend has it that this pub sits on property once owned by a man that took part in the beheading of King Charles I in 1649. Dude!
- Great stone exterior with red accents at The Kings Head
The Kings Head is definitely a happenin’ spot at night! No traditional music there, but there was a fabulous soul/R&B band playing on a lower level. That ominous dude in the window is totally gonna behead your arse! Better behave.
Awesome historic interior of The Kings Head
The Kings Head is expansive inside, with many levels and rooms. It keeps going and going… the more we looked around, the more areas we’d see. Including a wooden toilet seat hanging from the rafters. Nice touch! Or not…
Taaffes! Great pub for Irish music, and also great breakfast sandwiches in the morning!
Most pubs with trad music seem to have the musicians sitting up front, but they were sitting in the back at Taaffes.
Look, it’s Danyell! Picking up us some yummy fish & chips from Harry Fitz’s!
“Tiġ Ċóilí Sign” ~ On Mainguard Street in Galway, this is one of my favorite pub exteriors and signs in Ireland, to be sure, to be sure! “Tiġ Ċóilí” is pronounced chee-KOH-lee, meaning something along the lines of “Coley’s House”.
- Another shot of the lovely Tiġ Ċóilí pub
Here’s a close-up of the temporary window paint at Tiġ Ċóilí, advertising a continuous 12-hour traditional music session for charity!
“Tiġ Ċóilí Pub” – Just can’t go wrong with photographing this exterior! (click for prints)
- A fine trad session in progress inside of Tiġ Ċóilí! As is typical in the most authentic sessions, no amplification is used. Get up close!
This is the rear entrance, just across from The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas.
“Tiġ Ċóilí at Night” – Ah yes, it even looks great at night! (click for prints)
- Beautiful mural painted on a building at the end of Quay Street. I might have to get a large print of this one.
Cool Claddagh jewelry store at the end of Quay Street
The Claddagh ring originated in Galway in the 1700s, just across the river from this shop.
The historic Spanish Arch was built in 1584 as part of Galway’s city walls that were meant to protect the quays.
Galway looks awesome doesn’t it? I hope these photos have given you an appreciation for its vibrant and historic atmosphere. In the upcoming Galway posts “Part II” and “Part III”, I’ll share photos of a whole nother side of the Galway area, including marching bands and nearby castles!