Ireland’s Galway: A west coast gem

Galway is a city in which to relish a native brew, appreciate the outstanding seafood and get breath-taking views of the rushing River Corrib as it arcs out to Galway Bay.

I urge you to begin your day with a full Irish breakfast, before heading out. The city is best explored on foot, and a walking tour is a fantastic way to learn the history of Galway.

CITY MUSEUM

As I wander the cobblestone paths of the small city, I finally feel I am in Ireland. I come across the Spanish Arch which was built in the 16th century. It was formerly an addition of the famed city walls, intended to guard the quays.

Located at the very end of Quay Street, it’s the picture-perfect place to be seated and relax by the water. Adjacent to the Spanish Arch is the City Museum. The glass-fronted, modernist façade is unassuming.

Once inside, you would come across a number of enthralling artefacts, counting a full-size Galway Hooker boat up in the air from one of its ceilings and a moving stable file of the men from Connaught Rangers who lost their lives in the world wars and other crusades for the British army regiment.

KIWI -MEETS-EIRE

“Kai” in Kai Cafe and Restaurant literally translates into “food” in the Maori language. An innate New Zealander, the chef, Jess Murphy, has earned applause for this ingenious eating spot set in a stone-walled prior flower shop.

The menu changes every day, featuring Celtic Kiwi dishes. Yes, Kai is a homecoming to Irish staples, but with a definite contemporary take.

As for me, I got to try the blood pudding with beet marmalade, and poached salmon pate with green goddess dressing and caper berries for lunch…simply divine!

QUAY STREET

You just can’t miss the iconic Quay Street! Situated in the middle of the town and firmly bursting on both sides with myriad pubs, bars, and shops, one could effortlessly devote an entire afternoon on the lively street. Hours can be spent amidst the well-stocked shelves of Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. 

The Quay’s is an implausible spot to catch live music, uninhibited old-style music session hits you full blast in the evenings! I begin at Taaffe’s, followed speedily by Tig Cóilí across the street.

Though if you are in the mood for a native Irish dress and tweed; keep rambling up Quay Street crossways to High Street and visit Ó’Máille!

A TERROIR BASED MICHELIN DINNER

On offer is genuine wild and seasonal cuisine with finest ingredients, sourced from the vicinity whenever possible.

JP McMahon gathers the local produce and channels them through his creative and polished cuisine, overflowing with flavours and humble of the product. Don’t miss the pleasant fresh fish, cooked the same day it is caught.

Lovers of wine will be seduced by an outstanding wine list culled from a handpicked selection. Exclusive moments to be lived for both the eye and the palate’s enjoyment as excellence, honesty and uprightness are JP McMahon’s cooking principles.

THE CLADDAGH RING

The two gripped hands holding a heart represent loyalty, love and friendship; the past of where these gorgeous rings come from is one of Ireland’s slighter known stories.

Johnathan Margetts is the property owner of the first Claddagh Ring Company T. Dillon and Sons in Ireland, who have been creating these rings since 1750, is now the oldest Irish jewellers in existence. At the rear of his shop in Quay Street, Jonathan has a small museum open for free during the shops opening hours.

Here I learn about Claddagh, a fishing village on the outskirts of Galway, which was a booming and vivacious community in the 19th century—but one that was very much dissimilar from the rest of Galway and Ireland.

FACT FILE

Getting There

All major airlines fly daily into Dublin. The best connectivity from India is with British Airways. Galway is just under three hours away by City Link and Go Bus have frequent regular trips to/ from Dublin, and Irish Rail will get you right into Eyre Square. 

When to Visit

The best time of the year to visit is Christmas, New Year’s and through the Galway Races. But just about any weekend is a good weekend in this city!

Accommodation

There are plenty of budget Bed and Breakfasts as well as a vast choice of hotels ranging from 5-star to 3-star, so accommodation is never a problem here. The Forster Court Hotel on Forster St, is a fantastic option if you want a cozy and more upscale place to stay.

(www.theforstercourt.ie)