County Galway (Irish: Contae na Gaillimhe) is on the West coast of Ireland, in the province of Connacht. It is noted for its fantastic scenery in the Connemara region and along the shores of Galway Bay and out in the Aran Islands. It is also home to one of the larger freshwater lakes, Lough Corrib which at one time was famous for salmon fishing.
The Irish Language held out longer in the West and as a result it has the largest Gaeltacht in the country.
- (Gaillimh) – county capital situated on Galway Bay
- (Áth Eascrach, "Ford of the Esker")
- (An Caisleán Gearr)
- (An Cladach Dubh, "the black shore")
- (An Clochán, "stepping stones")
- (An Fhairche)
- (An Líonán, "where the tide fills")
- (An Spidéal, "the hospital")
- (An Cheathrú Rua)
- (Leitir Móir)
- (Maigh Cuilinn)
- (Órán Mór)
The Irish name for this county, Gaillimh, derives from Gaill, the Gaelic word for outsiders or foreigners. It is ironic, then, that this county is now home to the largest gaeltacht, where the language and culture of Ireland still survives.
The landscape in County Galway is varied. The interior is largely flat, while the Connemara, in the northwest is a region of ancient glacier scarred mountains, blanket bog peatlands and rugged coastlines. The Aran Islands and the south are rocky and barren places, containing numerous stone age forts, including Dun Aenghus (one of the best examples of its kind in Europe), beautiful in its isolation. To top it off, there is also the urban landscape of Galway City, the west coast's largest city.
Both English and Irish Gaelic are widely spoken in County Galway. As with the rest of Ireland, most Irish speakers are found in smaller and more isolated villages, while the cities are dominantly English speaking.
Frequent Citylink buses and IrishRail trains arrive from Dublin into Galway City. Local Bus Éireann buses into smaller communities in County Galway also arrive from neighbouring counties.
- Bus Éireann is the main public transportation operator between smaller towns. Their network radiates outward from Galway City
- Aran Island Ferries and Inis Mór Ferries operate ferries to the Aran Islands
By car hireCar hire is available from several agencies in the city and at the airport.
- Budget Car Rental Ireland - Locations at both Galway Airport and Eyre Sq in Galway City Center
- Alamo / National
- Dan Dooley
- Enterprise Rent a Car
Several local car dealers operate car-rentals. These include:
- Windsor Motors - located at Ballybrit
- Arch Motors - located at Westside
Roads outside the larger towns are often narrow and windy. Although this encourages you to slow down and appreciate the wonderful (if a little bleak) scenery, it does mean that getting around will probably take longer than you think.
Lynch's Castle on Shop StreetProbably the finest medieval town house in Ireland. It is now a branch of the Allied Irish Bank.
The Church of Ireland St. Nicholas' Collegiate Churchis the largest medieval church still in everyday use in Ireland. It was founded in 1320 and enlarged in the following two centuries. It is a particularly pleasant building in the heart of the old city.
Galway CathedralIts Roman Catholic counterpart, the Galway Cathedral was consecrated in 1965 and is a far larger, more imposing building constructed from limestone. It has an eclectic style, with renaissance dome, pillars and round arches, and a Romanesque portico that dominates the main facade — which is an unusual feature in modern Irish church building. It was suggested by a church in the city of Salamanca in Spain.
National University of Ireland, GalwayNot far from the cathedral stands the original quadrangle building of National University of Ireland, Galway which was erected in 1849 the Great Famin) as one of the three colleges of the Queen's University of Ireland (along with Queen's University Belfast and University College Cork. The university holds the UNESCO archive of spoken material for the Celtic languages.
Hotel MeyrickAnother of the city's limestone buildings is the Hotel Meyrick, originally the Railway Hotel and then the Great Southern Hotel, built by the Great Southern Railway Company in 1845. Sitting at the southern perimeter of Eyre Square, it is the City's oldest hotel still in operation.
Spanish ArchThe Spanish Arch in the southwest of the city, was built as an extension to the city walls, a part of which can be seen in the Corrbret Court shopping centre. The remains of the Menlo castle can also be seen, outside the city.
Taibhdhearc na GaillimheGalway has a permanent Irish language theatre located in the city centre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, which has produced some of Ireland's most celebrated actors. The Druid Theatre Company has won international acclaim for its cutting edge production and direction
Galway City MuseumThe Galway City Museum features two parts, "Fragments of a City" and "On Reflection." "Fragments of a City"'s collection is mainly about the heritage of Galway, while "On Reflection" is a collection of the most important Irish artists from the second half of the 20th century. This museum was designed to allow tourists and local visitors to really get to understand and know the city of Galway.
- Athenry Castle 15 km east of Galway is a restored 13th C Norman keep, open daily April-Oct.
- Aughnanure Castle is a well-restored Gaelic tower house. It's by the shores of Lough Corrib, 20 km northwest of the city towards Oughterard. It's open daily March-Oct, M-Sa Nov.
- Coole Park is a nature reserve in Gort, south of Galway towards the border with County Clare. Open daily April-Sept.
- Portumna Castle is a Jacobean mansion at the head of Loch Derg. Open daily March-Oct.
- Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh is a cultural centre for the Connemara Gaeltacht. It's at Rosmuc, open daily.
Go to TheatreThere are many theatres in the city including Nun's Island Theatre, The Bank of Ireland Theatre, The Druid Lane Theatre and The Town Hall Theatre, a modern art theatre with two performance spaces opened in 1995 that has a 52 week program covering all aspects of the performing arts including ballets, musicals and operas. It has been the venue for many Irish film premieres, during the Galway Film Fleadh.
HikingHike through the Twelve Bens in Connemara.
BikingBike around the Sky Road near Clifden.
Walking TourTake a walking tour of Historic medieval Galway with Galway Tours