So my brother married a fabulous Galway girl a couple of weeks ago and the wedding took us to the Raheen Woods Hotel in Athenry – a perfect location, just a 10-minute drive from the church (in Maree) and Galway City, and access to the Wild Atlantic Way. A deserved winner of the IASI (Irish Accommodation Services Institute) Gold Award in 2015, the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the hotel ensured we had a magical weekend.
We arrived at the hotel on the Friday evening and enjoyed a tasty meal from the bar menu. Family and friends from Dublin arrived throughout the evening and it wasn’t long before a sing song kicked off! We had great fun with the locals, who joined in from around the bar…as long as we didn’t request ‘The Fields of Athenry‘! Ha!
On the big day, the weather behaved and the beautiful ceremony was followed by a brilliant reception/dinner/party/session in the Raheen Woods. The craic was mighty and the party stayed going in the residence bar until the wee hours.
The next day and before our final night of celebrations, my sister Kathy and I took our very cool 13-year-old niece, Sadhbh, for a quick day-trip into Galway city. Sadhbh is 100% Dubliner so we wanted to show her another cool city (being the cool aunties that we are).
We only had a couple of hours to spend in the city so we parked near Eyre Square and headed 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. There were several buskers on the streets, singing and playing music of all sorts. Sadhbh is a budding musician and really enjoyed it.
We strolled through the Galway Market in Church Lane by St Nicholas’ Church. Lots of stalls filled with locally produced art, crafts and food. It was a Sunday, so it wasn’t as busy compared to a Saturday I’m guessing, but still bustling.
We made our way up to Quay street and happened upon Cofferwerk + Press, a cool coffee and craft shop – combining two things I love (and another reason to love Galway). As soon as we stepped inside, good vibes surrounded us. It felt like we were somewhere else in Europe, like Amsterdam or Berlin, which I understand are cities that influenced the owners. The ground floor served coffee and teas while the second and third floors displayed quirky art and crafts from Galway and other European cities. There was also a funky record player with a brilliant selection of vinyl records to play. There were plenty of lovely gift items. My sister picked up some retro lights and I picked up some cards designed by Screech Owl Design. I reckon Sadhbh was pretty impressed too as she took lots of pics…“#Thisisacoolplace”
We spent a little longer browsing in Coffeewerk + Press than intended so instead of wandering further up Quay Street we decided to drop back into Tigh Neachtain’s for a pint (minerals for Sadhbh and designated driver). We grew up in a family pub business, which Kathy now owns, and because of this we like to check out the famous, 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 to the main bar, which stocks a large and varied selection of drinks, including its own home brewed beers.
With little seating space we were lucky to have found a spot in the corner to sit and watch the comings and goings. There was an elderly gentleman at the bar counter speaking with the staff. He looked 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 happened. He made his way over to where we were seated and right beside us, lifted the cover off an old piano, which we hadn’t spotted! He delved into a beautiful rendition of ‘Moon River’ and for the next 20 minutes we were serenaded by great singing and piano playing. In true Irish form, and just when we were settling in, our piano player (named Jerry) answered a call on his mobile phone mid-song. It was a message to let him know his dinner was ready so he had to go…only in Ireland!
Sadhbh’s phone died (#Catastrophe) and it was time for us to go too. Dinner and our final night in the hotel awaited us. There was so much more to see and do in Galway city but it would have to wait until the next time.
Galway recently won 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. I will be back for a foodie tour very soon!
All round successful yet brief day-trip to this wonderful, cultural city! Sadhbh loved it. We loved it. What’s not to love about Galway, a city for all ages!