Dearbhaill Standún and her husband own and operate a restored 17th-century “hill village,” Cnoc Suain, just a short drive from Galway city on Ireland’s west coast. Though the Gaelic speaker and musician loves her rural retreat in the ruggedly beautiful Connemara district, she cherishes her time in this “friendly festival city by the Bay.” Here are a few of her favorite things to see and do in Cathair na Gaillimhe (that’s Irish Gaelic for Galway).
Galway is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is on a stroll along Quay Street, the pulse of Galway, because it encapsulates the medieval city’s character and vibrancy.
Summer and autumn are the best times to visit my city because the artistic, creative, and fun qualities for which my city is renowned come to life in a blaze of festivals ranging from the arts and food to film and horse racing.
You can see my city best from the stony beach area known locally as “the Claddagh.” Here, as you gaze across on the medieval streetscapes, walls, big skies, and Atlantic Ocean you sense that this western port city has a rich and varied history.
Locals know to skip the big-brand fast food outlets and check out McDonagh’s legendary fish-and-chips shop on Quay Street instead.
My city’s best museum is the Galway City Museum because this architecturally innovative structure harnesses the luminescent light of Galway Bay while showcasing the rich history of my city through the ages.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that it’s best explored by foot.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is strolling along the canal walks and the seaside promenades.
My city really knows how to celebrate with an exciting tapestry of national and international festivals because of its passion for culture and creativity.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they are never short of a tale to tell!
Just outside my city, you can visit the Gaeltacht, an Irish-speaking area renowned for its rugged coastal beauty and distinctive and rich Gaelic culture.
My city is known for being the fastest growing city in Europe, but it’s really a warm, intimate place.
The best outdoor market in my city is St. Nicholas Saturday Market where one can find a wealth of local artisan foods and crafts.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I relax and enjoy the buskers and street performers on Shop Street.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be the actor Brendan Gleeson because he is charismatic, a fluent Gaelic speaker, and a fiddle player who values his culture and heritage.
The dish that represents my city best is fresh Galway Bay oysters, and Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is my city’s signature drink.
St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is my favorite building in town because of its architecture, history, and general ambiance.
The most random thing about my city is that it’s also known as the “City of the Tribes.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Impromptu traditional music sessions–day or night–could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should come to the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.
In the summer you should attend the Galway Arts Festival and one of the numerous traditional boating festivals or Connemara pony shows that are all within an hour’s drive of the city.
In the fall you should partake in the Galway Oyster Festival.
In the winter you should experience the Tulca Visual Arts Festival.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Baboró International Arts Festival for Children.
The best book about my city is Galway Stories. These tales, told by residents and local characters, give an insight into the culture and life of my city.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Galway Bay.”
The world should heart my city because in an increasingly globalized and homogenized world, Galway has retained its character, vibrancy, creativity, and warmth.