As one of the fastest growing cities in the entire Europe, Galway has kept its warm, small-town charm. It is home to a lively arts scene, with many artists, writers and artisans having made the city their home. Every summer, the Galway Arts Festival takes place. Many travelers also pass through Galway on their way to Connemara and western Gaeltacht giving Galway its nickname: ‘gateway to the West’.
Lynchs Castle which is located in the center of Galway, dates back to 1490, and was renovated in the 19th century. What used to be the townhouse of Lady Augusta Gregory, WB Yeat’s patron is now home to the Galway Arts Center. It offers a first-rate program of concerts, readings and exhibitions. The Galway City Museum is also well worth a visit for its collection of local documents, photographs and city memorabilia.
Dominating the city’s skyline, Galway Cathedral is an attraction not to be missed. Nora Barnacle House used to be the home of Nora Barnacle, wife of writer James Joyce. The John F. Kennedy Park, near Eyre Square, is the heart of the city and commemorates the American president’s visit here, in June 1963, only months before he was gunned down in Dallas. Not far away, the medieval quarter exudes a joyful charm.
Only a few hours’ by car from Galway, visitors can find some of Ireland’s most stunning regions. Connemara, wild and rugged, boasts peaceful valleys, bogs and mountain passes. Great hiking trails and stunning views of the ocean can be found in the Twelve Bens, a range of mountains. The small town of Spiddal is a nice stop along the coastline.
The Aran Islands lies to the west of Galway, and is home to some of Ireland’s oldest Christian and pre-Christian remains. Especially interesting are the enormous Iron Age stone forts at Dun Aengus on Inishmor. There are three islands that can be visited, with daily ferry services leaving from Galway.