Galway City is a booming mini-metropolis where medieval and Gaelic roots coalesce with modern art and hip university youth. It is best explored on a walking tour; the folks at Galway Tours (091 561 386 or 086 402 1819,
Why does Eyre Square contain the JFK Memorial Park? Following John F. Kennedy's visit to Galway, the city has maintained a special place in its heart for the beloved president. It was at Eyre Square where Kennedy exited his car to hug the mayor's mother. He stated thereafter that anyone from Galway was welcome in the White House. His untimely death devastated the city, and the park was subsequently given this honorific.
The following sections detail the best sights in Galway City.
This central pedestrian zone has a few notable sights. In the front sits the seventeenth-century Browne Doorway taken from the remnants of a mansion off of Abbeygate Street. The Quincentennial Fountain is near the JFK bust marking the JFK Memorial Park in the backdrop.
Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas
Known as the Church of St. Nicholas of Myra (091 564 648,
Located in what is now the AIB (Allied Irish Bank), Lynch Castle was home to Galway's most prominent “tribes,” or families. The outer façade of the sixteenth-century mansion still portrays Irish gargoyles in their full glory. Moreover, the coat of arms of the Lynch and Fitzgerald families are adorned with the crest of Henry VII, to whom they were loyal. Located on Abbeygate Street Lower and Shop Street. Open during the bank's regular business hours. Admission free.
Just below the King's Crest on the outside of Lynch Castle is a figure of a monkey holding a baby. This statuette is an accolade to the tree-bound creature that saved a toddler within the structure from imminent peril. A walking tour of the city delves further into this and other legends of Galway.
Located across the Wolfe Tone Bridge, the Spanish Arch was a portal that Spanish merchant fleets used to enter with goods, namely brandy. It is one of the only parts of the city's medieval walls that still stand. Other remnants of the city's fortified partition can be seen throughout the city's pubs and inside the main shopping mall off of Eyre Square.
A river cruise along the Lough Corrib offers a stunning view of Galway City. With a melding of history, nature, and lore, the tours are offered daily by Corrib Princess (091 592 447,
Galway City Museum
Galway City Museum (091 532 460,
The Galway Cathedral, completed in the 1960s, is actually denominated the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas (091 563 577,
Nora Barnacle House
This nineteenth-century private museum located in Bowling Green is known as the Nora Barnacle House (091 564 743,
Galway is known for its festivals and offers plenty throughout the year. Reserve accommodations ahead for these time periods. The best festivals are:
Galway International Oyster Festival. From Dublin to West-port and from Blarney to the Burren, you will hear locals talk about the Galway International Oyster Festival (091 587 992,
www.galwayoysterfest.com). The event takes place during the last week of September each year.
Galway Horse Races. The Galway Horse Races (091 753 870,
www.galwayraces.com) take place in July or early August each year. Eachday hasa different theme, and closed-circuit television broadcasts the event throughout the grounds.
Galway Film Fleadh. For an art-filled summer season at one of Ireland's largest film festivals, the Galway Film Fleadh (091 751 655,
www.galwayfilmfleadh.com) comes highly recommended.
Galway Arts Festival. For the finest sampling of Ireland's most dramatic, musical, and comedic renderings, the Galway Arts Festival (091 509 700,
www.galwayartsfestival.ie) lasts two weeks in mid-July each year.