So my brother married a fabulous Galway girl and the wedding took us to the Raheen Woods Hotel in Athenry – a deserved winner of an Irish Accommodation Services Institute (IASI) Gold Award and conveniently located, just a 10-minute drive from the church (in Maree), Galway City, and access to the Wild Atlantic Way.
We enjoyed a fabulous celebration with the stunning bride and groom and a big up to the fantastic staff at the hotel.
With a few hours to spare the next day, we explore Galway city with our very cool niece, Sadhbh.
We only have a couple of hours to spend in the city, so we park near Eyre Square and head towards the city’s pedestrianised Latin Quarter to check out some of the best-known shops, bars and restaurants.
One of the things I love most about Galway is its music and busking tradition. Several buskers line the streets, singing and playing music of all sorts. Sadhbh is a budding musician and loves the vibe.
Next on the list is a stroll through the bustling Galway Market in Church Lane by St Nicholas’ Church that is full of stalls selling locally produced art, crafts and food.
Making our way to Quay street we happen upon Cofferwerk + Press, a cool coffee and craft shop – combining two things I love (and another reason to love Galway). As soon as we step inside, good vibes surround us. It feels like we could be anywhere in Europe, like Amsterdam or Berlin, which I understand are the cities that influence the owners. The ground floor serves coffee and teas while the second and third floors display quirky art and crafts from Galway and other European cities. There is also a funky record player with a brilliant selection of vinyl records to play.
Next stop is Tigh Neachtain’s for a pint (minerals for Sadhbh and designated driver). We grew up in a family pub business and we like to check out other traditional pubs in the places we visit. Tigh Neachtain’s is one of those pubs, oozing with character. Over 120 years old, it’s situated on the corner of Quay Street and Cross Street. The interior is made up of several small snugs along short corridors leading into the main bar, which stocks a large and varied selection of drinks, including its own home brewed beers.
We find a spot in the corner to sit and watch the comings and goings. An elderly gentleman at the bar counter is chatting with staff and looks like a real character, dressed in an old tweed jacket with elbow pads, a funky man scarf and a trilby hat. Then a little bit of Irish magic happens. He takes a seat at the old piano in the corner beside us, lifts the lid and delves into a beautiful rendition of ‘Moon River’ and for the next 20 minutes we are serenaded. In true Irish form, and just as we were settling in, our piano player answers a call on his mobile – a call to let him know his dinner is ready so he has to leave…only in Ireland!
Sadhbh’s phone dies (#Catastrophe) and it’s time to go. Dinner and our final night in the hotel awaits. There is so much more to see and do in Galway city but it will have to wait until the next time.
Galway won the European Region of Gastronomy destination for 2018, an award that recognises innovation and integration in gastronomy, culture, tourism and economy. Galway certainly deserves this accolade. The city and country also hosts the European Capital of Culture in 2020 on behalf of the Irish nation. See more details here.
A successful yet brief day-trip to this wonderful, cultural city! Sadhbh loves it. I love it. What’s not to love about Galway, a city for all ages!