The CladdaghOne of the oldest settled areas in Galway. It was once an ancient fishing village dating from the fifth century. The traditional thatched cottages were replaced by a new housing scheme in the 1930s but the area still retains certain unique customs and traditions. Legend has it that this area was most famous for the Claddagh ring, which was created by jeweller, Richard Joyce. The story goes that he was kidnapped by pirates on his way to the West Indies and his master taught him jewellery craft. When he was released, he returned to Galway and set up his trade. The design of the ring symbolises love, friendship and loyalty and is of two clasped hands holding a crowned heart and is a popular souvenir for visitors to the city. Today it is popular to feed the Claddagh Swans or stroll along the shore walk that begins a The Claddagh.
Spanish ArchBuilt in 1594 to protect the Quays, this is a reminder of times when trade with Spain was the lifeblood of the city. Excavations have also revealed substantial remains of the old city walls. The Galway City Museum is located beside Spanish Arch.
Galway City MuseumThe museum is a spacious modern building with three floors of exciting permanent and touring exhibitions engaging visitors in the archaeology, history and sea science of Galway city. Located on the banks of the River Corrib and overlooking the famous Spanish Arch. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday and on Sundays from Easter Sunday through to the end of September.
Druid Theatre CompanySince its creation in 1975 Druid has presented ground-breaking work and aims to create electrifying theatre. As well as touring extensively across Ireland, the company’s productions have played internationally to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Druid has garnered an international reputation for classical and new Irish writing. Throughout the years, the lane on which the theatre is situated has gone by numerous names; including Red Earls’ Lane, Chapel Lane, Courthouse Lane, and since 1996, Druid Lane, when Galway City Council renamed it in celebration of the company’s 21st birthday. The theatre itself has been named the ‘Mick Lally Theatre’ after a prominent Irish actor who was a founding member of the Druid Company.
Hall of the Red EarlLocated on Druid Lane this is the earliest surviving settlement structure within the medieval walls of Galway. It is one of the city’s most significant archaeological landmarks. The site which is invigilated by Dúchas na Gaillime - Galway Civic Trust dates to the 13th century as is linked to the founding of Galway by the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family at this time. The hall was Galway’s first municipal building and was used to collect taxes, dispense justice and to host banquets. In essence it acted as a tax office, courthouse and town hall. open all year Monday – Friday 9.30 to 16.45 & Saturday 10.00 to 13.00 (May – September). Admission is free. From June to September Dúchas na Gaillimhe – Galway Civic Trust run free walking tours of medieval Galway which depart from the Hall at 14.00 each Tuesday & Thursday.
Tribes of GalwayGalway is known as the ‘City of Tribes’. The Tribes of Galway were fourteen merchant families who dominated the political, commercial and social life from the 13th to the 17th centuries with the surnames of Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D’Arcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerritt. The Tribes lost much of their power after Galway surrendered to Cromwell in April 1652 and many of them fled to France and beyond.
Lynch’s CastleLocated on the corner of Abbeygate Street and Shop Street, Lynch’s Castle is one of the finest examples of an Irish town castle built in the 15th century. The original structure remains intact and is notable for some of the few remaining Irish gargoyle carvings as well as the arms of Henry VII and the Lynch family. It now houses AIB bank.
Collegiate Church of St. NicholasThe Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas is a medieval church building in Galway, Ireland. It is a collegiate church and the parish church of St. Nicholas' Church of Ireland parish, which covers Galway city. It is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use as a place of worship. It is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of mariners in recognition of Galway's status as a port. Legend says it is located on the site of an earlier church built by the Knights Templar. The existing church is said to have been built in 1320 but according to tradition, the chancel is older, incorporating part of the earlier Templar chapel. Amongst the visitors to St. Nicholas’ over the centuries the most famous is probably Christopher Columbus who prayed here during a visit to Galway in 1477. Less welcome was the Cromwellian troops who used the church as a stable for their horses after the siege of Galway in 1652. They are blamed for the headless and handless state of most of the carved figures inside the church. The church is open all day, every day, and visitors are most welcome.
Nora Barnacle HouseLocated in Bowling Green adjacent to St. Nicholas Church is the home of Nora Barnacle, the wife of the world famous Irish literary figure James Joyce. Now open to the public during the summer, Joyce stayed in the house many times while visiting his in-laws.
Lynch’s WindowSituated on Market Street beside St Nicholas’s Church. The Lynch Window Memorial is one of the great stories of Galway. In 1493, it is said that the son of James Lynch FitzStephen, the mayor and magistrate of Galway, confessed to having murdered a Spanish merchant sailor who was a rival romance to his girlfriend. Lynch hanged his son, Walter, himself when the official executioner refused to participate; ensuring that justice prevailed, before retiring into seclusion. The term ‘Lynching’ arose from this unfortunate episode. The window where the deed allegedly took place adjoins the graveyard of the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas of Myra and is a memorial window of the event which took place.
National University of Ireland, GalwayNational University of Ireland, Galway was established by the Colleges (Ireland) Act in 1845. The University was first known as Queens College Galway and along with its sister colleges in Cork and Belfast, was established to provide non-denominational university education to Ireland’s emerging middle class.
The Quadrangle at NUI Galway first opened its doors to its first intake of 68 students in October 1849. At the time, the College comprised three faculties, Arts (including Literary and Science divisions), Law and Medicine, as well as a School of Engineering & Agriculture. In 1908, Queens College Galway was renamed University College Galway and was reconstituted as a constituent college of the newly established National University of Ireland, along with University College Cork and University College Dublin.
Eyre SquareKnown as An Fhaiche Mhór in Irish, the origin of the square comes from a medieval open space in front of a town gate. The plot of land that became Eyre Square was officially presented to the city in 1710 by Mayor Edward Eyre, from whom it took its name. In 1801, General Meyrick, erected a stone wall around the square, which was later known as Meyrick Square. In the middle of the 19th century the whole park underwent a redevelopment in the Georgian style. In the 1960s, a full-scale reconstruction started and the iron railings were removed and raised around the backyard of St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church.
In 1965, the square was officially renamed "John F. Kennedy Memorial Park" in honour of U.S. President who visited Galway city and made a speech in the square on 29 June 1963 and who was made a Freeman of the City shortly before his death in 1963. Despite the renaming, the square is still widely known as Eyre Square. Of particular note is the Merchant Family ‘Browne Doorway’. It has been standing in Eyre Square since 1870, having been moved from Lower Abbeygate Street, the location of the Browne family house. The Iron Fountain is representative of the sails of a traditional fishing boat or ‘Galway Hooker’.
Corrib Princess Cruise on Lough CorribThe Corrib Princess sails from Woodquay in the heart of Galway city. The journey takes passengers along the majestic River Corrib and onto Lough Corrib Irelands second largest lake providing visitors with unsurpassed views and natural amenities that make this the most spectacular waterway in Ireland. The Corrib Princess takes you past castles and various sites of both historical and cultural interest. You can enjoy this natural wonderland either as a member of a group, with your family or friends or, simply by yourself.
90 minute cruise May – September