A walking tour - what a great way to discover the rich history and cultural heritage of Galway city, and the good thing about Galway is that it’s fairly compact and easy enough to get around on foot.
Whether you choose to go with a tour company or make your own way around the cobblestone streets, it’s a great way of being part of the hustle and bustle.
The advantage of going on your own steam is you can stop and start as you please without feeling you are delaying the group. However a tour company would have the advantage of a guide to answer those “burning questions”, and also to add their personal touch with in-depth local knowledge.
Whichever way you choose to go and explore the city, the following should feature highly on your ”must see list”. Oh, and don’t forget a good Galway map if you’re opting for a self guided tour of the city.
This inner city park is the focal point of Galway city. Edward Eyre, Mayor of Galway city gave this tract of land to Galway city in 1710. Eyre Square was re-named Kennedy Memorial Park in 1965, after J.F.K. himself had visited. There is a bust of the man to be seen in the Park. Also check out the Eyre Square Centre when you’re in the area.
Lunch’s Castle is a fine example of medieval Architecture. It’s now home to the Allied Irish Bank (the AIB). The ground floor of the building is open to visitors.
Home of Nora Barnacle
Number 8 Bowling Green was the home of James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle. The property has had restoration work done and is a valuable insight into how people lived and worked at the start of the 20th century.
Quay Street and the Spanish Arch
Quay Street is home to two of Galway city’s best known pubs, The Quays and Tigh Neachtain. Tigh Neachtain takes you back to the Ireland of by gone days with “old style snugs”. Enjoy “trad” music sessions at The Quays.
Those from near and far have heard about Galway’s Spanish Arch. Located where Galway’s River Corrib meets the sea, this is a tranquil spot. The remainder of a 16th century bastion, the Arch added to the town's walls to protect merchant ships from looting. The Spanish Arch is so called due to Galway’s merchant trade with Spain, whose Galleons often docked under its protection. On leaving Galway, you certainly won’t forget the beautiful Spanish Arch!
During medieval times the occupants of Galway city were driven out to this area by the Normans. Down through the centuries, the inhabitants had their own customs, dress, laws and language. However in 1937, the thatched cottages of this area were demolished and new housing built in its place, thus wiping out, without trace a community’s identity and a vital part of the city’s history.
Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas
This church is located in the medieval centre of Galway city. The building of the church dates back to about the 1300′s and was built in honour of St. Nicholas of Myra. It’s a unique building, as it holds the title of being the biggest medieval church in Ireland that’s still in use. This 14th century church was built using local materials–limestone and Connemara marble. The church was used as a stables during Oliver Cromwell’s reign but other than that it has served Galway city folk well as a house of worship over hundreds of years.
Galway City Courthouse
This really is a magnificent building. Work began on the project in 1812 and the courthouse was first opened for business in 1815.
Building of the Galway Cathedral began in 1958 and the Cathedral was dedicated in 1965. The Cathedral was actually built on the site of the old county jail. The copper dome can be seen for miles and almost everything used in the building was sourced locally. It was designed by Robinson Keefe and is a mix of Romanesque and Renaissance styles with a Spanish influence as well.