It was wet, it was grey and it was cold. Did we really want to go back to Doolin and take the ferry out to the Aran Island? That, was our initial plan but the day was looking rather grim so we decided to ditch the car and head into the city by bus. We had one day. Galway- music, food, history…
The bus journey finished at Ayr Square. It is always good when the journey terminates at just where you want to be. It saves the awkward conversations- where do you want to go? Um I’m not sure..the city? Yes and where? Um…the centre? Which centre? Oh dear..I don’t really know! But in Ireland there is no end to the help you will get. ‘Then dear, you should get off at (insert correct destination).’
Pick a street, any street…umm this looks interesting. Oh a bookstore. Wow what a bookstore. Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop is a maze of rooms brimming with books- over 100 000 of them- new, secondhand and antiquarian.
We discovered we were in the Latin Quarter. Because of its location, Galway had lucrative trading connections to Portugal and Spain-hence the Latin Quarter. Vibrant, interesting and crowded, Quays Street is the main pedestrian thoroughfare. Buskers, beggars and backpackers fill the street with diversions.
It’s all very touristy with souvenir shops selling everything Irish and loads of shops selling woollen ware, particularly Aran woollen knitwear. Of course Galway is the home of the Claddagh ring, so there is a myriad of jewellery shops lining the streets as well. There is also an archaeological dig towards the end of the street as a thirteenth century ‘missing’ castle was unearthed during the restoration of a fifteenth century manor house. And of course there are pubs…..heaps of pubs. You will not go thirsty in Galway…
The Corrib River runs into Galway Bay at what is said to be the oldest fishing village in Ireland, the Claddagh. Legend has it that a young man was captured by pirates and created the Claddagh ring which he gave to his love when he was eventually freed. The remnants of the village includes a series of tenement houses and the Spanish Arches. The Galway Museum is also in the area and we filled in some time there while waiting for the queue to disperse at Ard Bia Nimmos, a quirky but highly rated little restaurant. It was worth it.
It was imperative that we take in some music. Galway is where we were told was the genuine Irish music and we got the good oil from the waiter at Ard Bia. We had to go to Tigh Coili but the music wouldn’t be on for a couple of hours so he suggested we go to Tigh Neachtain and we could get a cup of tea. Which we did. It was very strange walking in to a pumping pub and asking for a cuppa but they didn’t blink an eye. We settled and took an hour to drink our tea then it was off to the Coili for some music.
The weather has us mystified. It really can be four seasons in a day. By the evening the sun was shining and while it was a little cool it was perfect for a walk back to the hotel.