I’m sitting out on my balcony over looking a pool with 3 waterfalls whilst listening to Africa by Toto in 37 degree heat. I have most likely peaked in terms of career success. I am working as contractor at the moment and over the last 2 weeks or so it’s been suggested to me that I may soon be made a permanent employee, which is a big ego boost after only 3 months working for the company. But it’s also made me reflective, I like it here and everything but can I give up Galway for good? I saw a post on Boards.ie called 50 Reasons to Visit Galway which made me less nostalgic…I read through it and was like ohh yeah I forgot about that shit, yeah Galway is just a bunch of pubs and artsy dole merchants. It took 2 days to shake that off and have a re-think. Here’s my list of the things I miss about Galway (Not going to mention actual people). Also it’s not 50. I got bored..sorry
1.) People Watching
Galway is a great place to walk around. On the weekends there’s people from all walks of life, it’s less of a student town and more of just a regular oul town as the college crowd fucks off home. Galway is labelled a city but it’s really more of a town. It’s tiny, you can walk around it in a matter of hours and feel safe while you do it.
2.) Friendly People
I’ve been a harsh critic of the Irish attitude changing in the last few years. With the Celtic Tiger came a massive attitude problem amongst many, many people. But if you pick the right places to go you can go to a pub alone and get some drinking buddies for the night.
3.) Spanish Arch
I’m not really one for sitting out at the Spanish Arch with a few cans of beer on a sunny day just because I get aggravated by the others around me. See above, you can go to places where you meet the really nice Irish people. When the sun is out at the Arch is not one of these. I mention the Spanish Arch because the area I feel gives the city a unique look and feel. There’s usually a raging current flowing under the bridge, when the water is calm the odd time you might see a Seal come in for a look. It can be nice to go there and read a book and just relax.
4.) Circular Road
If you drive up the Circular Road there’s a housing estate on top of the hill. There’s a great view of the city up there. It’s a shame there’s a housing estate there, it would be nice if they put an actual parking place for an overlook of the city. But anyway, you can park up there for a while and have a gawk.
5.) Lough Atalia
I lived on Lough Atalia for a year. Right now I live in a picture perfect place called Scottsdale in Arizona but I don’t think anywhere will ever compare to Lough Atalia. There was a kids sailing club that had little sail boats they used on Saturday mornings, the bridge for the train even gives the place a cool feel. There’s a long green bank right on the water front, there’s also a big homeless guy that seems to do Tai Chi there a few times a week. Only in Galway!!
6.) Irish Fry
It still seems to be the done thing on a Sunday morning to have a fry. For any foreigners out there a fry is an Irish breakfast usually consisting of Pork Sausage, Thick Fatty (not crispy) bacon, Baked Beans, Fried Egg, Fried Tomoto, Blood Pudding and Brown Bread with some tea or coffee. Some place have different vairations adding chips (fries) hash browns etc. In Galway the hungover populous converges on the city between 10am-1pm on Sunday for a fry and the city becomes United in the feeling of misery and regret for the night before.
If you don’t drink, Galway may not be for you and I will get crucified for saying that. But alcohol is a way of life in the town and not just a 1 or 2 after work type drink culture either. People go out and get shit faced a few times a week. It can get frustrating if you aren’t much of a drinker because nearly everybody else is. But it is what you make of it. Those nights you feel like cutting loose you can and it’s par for the course. If you get into the pubs early enough in the evening you can also have a nice quiet place to drink.
Galway has become a little cosmpolitan, but if you can get past the people with that attitude you can see the old glory days of Galway. I visited a 91 year old Irish man who had emigrated to Australia after World War 2. He still watches a video of Galway that was filmed in 1991. It was such a great place with no heirs or graces about it. If you can at all, I’d say go to some of the old haunts like The Crane and Tigh Ceoili. Better yet visit some of the pubs out in the country side.
I gave the Irish breakfast it’s own entry because it’s a very Irish experience. In Galway city there’s some great fast food and gourmet restaraunts. If you want pretty good fast food you could try Norios or Vinnies. If you like Fish and Chips, you should check out McDonaghs. There’s some nice fine dining places dotted around the city also like KC Blakes, Gemmelles, Cavas etc. I’ve actually found myself missing the Chinese food in Galway, I really liked Golden Mountain and The Villa. I haven’t been able to find Chinese like it in America so far. The Chinese food here has become very processed here. (more so than anywhere else I have been). There’s some pretty good pizza in Munroes too. If you want a decent cheap pizza you could try Apaches.
10.) The Docks
I really like The Docks in Galway since they made it into more of a Marina. It’s a pretty cool place to just hang out around. Sometimes I’d go out by Dun Aengus and just switch off and look out at the water. I’ve been to other cities with docks like San Diego and Sydney but Galways is small scale which makes it stand out more. When you see huge docks where things are pretty much the same every day. Ferrys in, Ferrys out etc. It gets kind of boring. In Galway I was always intrigued by The Docks. It was never the same twice.
Salthill has some charm. It’s pretty cool to walk from The Spanish Arch to the end of the Prom. Going from beautiful wide open green grass leading out to a beautiful horizon to a modest beach. It’s a pretty big beach when the tide is out but it won’t win any awards for beauty. I don’t think I have swam there since I was a kid, it’s been years since I actually lay on the sand. But I did enjoy walking around there. It’s also nice to bring a lady you want to fuck over to in your car at night, watching the moon light on the rippling water. Nice!
12.) Renmore Beach
Now this beach sucks. No sugar coating it. Don’t go to this one expecting some gorgeous white sandy beach. What makes Renmore nice is the large open Green area to walk around whilst looking out over the Ocean with the lights of Salthill in the distance.
13.) The Craic
Galway is a great place for having the craic. The people tend to have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. Talking loads of shite on a night out. Don’t take a word anyone says as gospel. The Irish are famous for telling tales, just enjoy it. If you are foreign you are even more likely to get sold a bunch of horse shit. It’s usually not meant maliciously, it’s just the way the people are. If you realize this quick enough you can have fun with it yourself and talk all kinds of shite to people.
14.) Trad Music
This kind of falls under culture as well but I’ll put it here. Tigh Ceoili and The Crane are great spots for Trad Music. Every year there’s an event called Trad on the Prom. There’s also other places like Cookes that have some decent trad sessions. You have to do it at least once.
Ireland has a few national games but the only one I’m going to mention is hurling because to me it’s the most exciting and unique. I would think it’s also one that tourists would be the most fascinated with because of the speed and skill involved. If you can catch a Galway game in Pearse Stadium it’s well worth a look.
16.) The Weather
I can’t believe I’m saying this either. But the weather in Galway is not the worst! Yes it rains a lot and yes it can get quite cold. I just moved to a place that is sunny all year long, I was led to believe going by metrics that July and August got very hot but the rest of the year was manageable. As it turns out, there’s extreme heat for 6 months of the year. Galway rarely gets extreme weather. You don’t have to fear getting heat stroke, you’ll likely never freeze to death, Flooding is usually rare and isolated, there’s no Tornados or Earthquakes. There’s also very few hurricaines and when there are you’d barely notice the feckin things because people just get on with it.
I’ve been to a lot of “cities” around the world and even in Ireland and I’ve never seen farm land in such close proximity as I have in Galway. You can go out the Headford Road and see Cattle 2 minutes away from the Pillo Hotel. It’s pretty cool in my opinion. Also around The East side of the city there’s quite a bit of farm land. Other than that there’s some pretty birds and if you are lucky enough you might spot a badger or hedgehog. Also a big plus ya don’t have to worry about snakes or poisonous spiders or lizards. So a quick recap, no fear of natural disasters or deadly predators. The only real threat is alcohol!!
18.) The Museum
I was the museums harshest critic when it opened. I thought it was shit but I went back this year and really enjoyed it they did a great job of re-vamping and with free entry, you can’t beat that!
It was wearing off a little in the last few years but there’s still a sense of community amongst the ACTUAL residents of Galway and Ireland as a whole. Over here you could get desenitized by what would seem like a tragedy back in Ireland. If there’s a fatal car accident here it might make the traffic update and that’s all you will hear about it. People just get on with it. If there’s an untimely death in Galway people kind of stop and take note. When there’s family events on in the city there’s a really nice spirit show. Also when the previous Volvo Ocean Race came to town it kind of caught me off guard what a great spirit there was. I think it was because there wasn’t a sense of occasion before it for most people. So unlike The races or RAG week the only people who were attending the entire event were actual enthusiasts so when people finished work they went into the free gigs and took it easier on the drink than they may have during the races…
Traffic has gotten pretty bad lately with all the road works. The city was also growing quicker than the roads could handle but before the problems and hopefully again after the roadworks. Galway is so small it’s easy to get around. The commute to work tends to be pretty stress free and quick.
21.) Quality Produce
It’s something I probably took for granted in Ireland but the quality of meat and vegetables there is actually pretty good. A lot of it locally sourced and more than a few great local trustworthy butchers.
22.) Big City Attitude in Small Town
I’m not choosing this because it’s a positive as such but it’s pretty funny to me that there’s so many people with a big city type mentality in what’s essentially a town. Galway city kids act like they are hard knock city kids. Achievements get way overhyped, usually drawing comparisons to bigger cities to make the place seem more important. There’s also this cosmopolitan shit which started in the city, with people getting pretty smug..in my opinion. I know other’s would agree. If you want a laugh. Go to Halo or Busker Brownes on a night out and look at the people walking around with their nose up in the air thinking they are actually something…but you can have your own fun with this too. Those are the people that don’t have a sense of humor about themselves and thus are the easiest targets for Bullshit talk.
23.) Watching a Match
When there’s a big sporting event like a soccer match going into a pub in town is great. The Drinking is slow paced and everybody is focused on the one thing. You feel like you are part of something when you go to watch a match in the likes of Fagans.
24.) Not so stone city
When living in a city you can find yourself living in a stone prison. No garden, no parks just boring grey buildings all around. In Galway you are never far from a nice plush looking area. It helps the mind just knowing it’s there when you need to see it.
25.) Crisp Air
It is sometimes very cold alright but the air is always crisp and pure. When you go outside you know you are outside. You can feel it and it’s a great feeling.
Outside the City
Connemara is gorgeous. Clifden is one of my favorite places in Ireland. The Sky Road is one the best views you will get anywhere. Not quite the Cliffs of Moher or The Grand Canyon but it’s really beautiful. There’s really cool ruins all over the county like out in Clifden or Ross Abbey out by Headford. Coole Park down in Gort is a nice tranquil place. Spiddal is pretty cool.
I couldn’t quite get to 50. I didn’t want to just list off the names of pubs because I think there’s more to a city than just where to drink. Let me know what you think. Anything I am missing?