Craic in the ‘City of Tribes’.
Fans of Ed Sheeran or Steve Earle would be familiar with the ‘Galway Girl’ – a lively, bohemian, craic-loving woman that embodies the essence of the Republic of Ireland’s sixth largest city.
Galway, or Gaillimh as it’s known in Irish Gaelic, has been designated the European Union’s 2020 Capital of Culture and will host a year-long celebration of Irish culture, language and people.
Channel your inner Galway Girl in Ireland’s liveliest city.
With a reputation as one of Ireland’s top party towns, Galway is Ireland’s home of live music.
From contemporary pop to traditional Irish music, there’s something for everyone at one of Galway’s more than 470 pubs.
Ed Sheeran fans can sink a pint at Galway’s oldest pub, O’Connell’s, which was one of the locations for the Galway Girl film clip.
Traditional Irish music is on offer each night at Taaffes, a 150-year-old pub popular with locals and tourists alike.
If you’re in the mood to dance, The Quays hosts local traditional and cover bands until the wee hours of the morning, seven days a week.
Try: A pint of Guinness or Galway Hooker craft beer.
Just off the coast of Galway lie the Aran Islands, a true Irish experience.
Catch the ferry to Inis Mór (Inishmore in English), the largest of the three Aran Islands to experience more than 50 monuments of Christian, pre-Christian and Celtic heritage.
The island is steeped in history and many locals keep Irish culture alive by speaking Gaeltacht (Irish Gaelic) as well as English.
Hire a bike to ride the 6km to a 14-acre Bronze Age fort located on a 90m high cliff face. Pick up some lunch at the local Spa supermarket and ride the easier coastal route for fewer hills and stunning views of farms and bays – you may even spot some seals and puffins.
Dún Aonghasa offers spectacular views of the dramatic cliffs that stretch the length of the island and the wild Atlantic sea.
Buy: Locally produced Aran Islands cable-knit wool sweater, gloves and beanie.
Meander the markets
Galway’s bustling street market has been trading every Saturday for centuries, rain, hail or shine.
Located next to St Nicholas’ Church in the city centre, Galway Market features hundreds of stalls selling fresh street food, local art and handicrafts.
During the festive season the market is open everyday from 14-24 December and specialises in Christmas food, decorations and handmade gifts.
Buy: A handcrafted Claddagh ring from a local silversmith.
Kick the wall
Visit the little seaside suburb of Bóthar na Tra (Salthill in English) and stroll the 2km beachfront promenade.
Tradition dictates that you should kick the wall at the end of the promenade for good luck – no one is entirely sure why, but it’s been done by locals and tourists alike for many years.
If you’re game, dive into the Atlantic Ocean at the Blackrock diving board and then warm up with an Irish coffee at one of the many cafes or restaurants along the promenade.
Try: Fish and chips with Irish curry sauce.