Spiddal (An Spidéal), County Galway, is a picturesque seaside village on the shores of Galway Bay, and part of An Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area). Spiddal is one of the largest Irish speaking settlements in the Galway Gaeltacht and is the setting for the TG4 soap Ros na Rún. Spiddal is approximately 12 miles (19 km) from Galway city. The locals speak both Irish and English here and during the summer months Spiddal is a lively spot with an influx of teenagers doing 3-week Irish language courses. All signposts in the village are in Irish. With the rugged beauty of Connemara only a stone’s throw away, Spiddal is an ideal base for your holiday in Galway. You have a good choice of eateries in the village and a selection of pubs where most weekends you can catch a “live trad” night.
“An Spidéal”, or Spiddal, is also well known known for its famous Irish school, “Colaiste Chonnacht”, to which students from all over Ireland come to learn the Irish language, and its associated cultures and traditions. Making a trip to an Irish college is a right-of-passage for most Irish youngsters, and this first taste of independence from home is usually tempered with lots of outdoor activities, traditional “ceili dancing”, and sometimes even a little romance.
The name Spiddal is thought to have come from the word “Ospidéal”, meaning hospital, but the town’s namesake of several centuries ago is now long gone. Despite its proximity to Galway City, the town maintains a relatively traditional demeanour, with a vernacular streetscape and a harbour area which has changed little over the last 150 years. The signposts are all in the Irish language, and you will hear it spoken in the shops, pubs and restaurants. Indeed most people will be more than happy to teach you a couple of words if you ask.
Spiddal has two south-facing beaches on beautiful Galway Bay connected by a scenic walking / cycling path. One is by the roadside east of the village with a short promenade, while the second is sheltered behind the pier, and is reached by car by means of a narrow road to the west of the village. The rocks behind the pier, and the pier itself, are used for shore angling when the mackerel shoals are in. Galway has six Blue Flag Beaches and “Tra na mBan”, or “Ladies Beach”, in Spiddal is one of them.
Getting to Spiddal
By bus with Bus Eireann, or car. Spiddal is practically a suburb of Galway City, and so there are numerous local routes serving it every day. Alternatively follow the R336 west from Galway to Spiddal.
Follow the coast
Spiddal is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Rossaveel and Carraroe if you are travelling north and Galway, and Rinville Harbour, if you are travelling south.
Where to Stay
Spiddal offers a whole range of accommodation types, from hotels, to guesthouses, holiday cottages, and home B&B's.
Visit beautiful Shannagarraun Wood, a Special Area of Conservation. The oaks, hazel, holly and birch of Shannagarraun Wood have an under storey rich in specialist ferns, mosses and lichens.
Potter about Spiddle’s two piers and don’t be shy about making conversation with the locals….and even better still….in Irish.
The Spiddal Craft Centre puts a different slant on the purchase of souvenirs. Here you can actually watch your “keep-sake” being made by skilled craftsmen. The centre comprises of several workshops, which make candles, pottery, Celtic jewellery, weaving, and bodhráns. Refreshments can also be had from the on-site restaurant.
A trip to the beach is always a good suggestion. Whether it’s just for a bracing walk along the seashore or for the kids to collect seashells for arts and crafts, you just can’t beat that clean refreshing sea air. Spiddal is lucky in the fact that it has two beaches, one is situated behind the pier and is suitable for fishing, the other is Trá na mBan, which has the much-coveted Blue Flag status.
Being in the midst of such stunning country side it would be a shame not to take some good long walks and head towards Connemara. Horse riding, cycling and a game of golf are also other suggestions for leisure activities.