Freelance journalist Molly McCluskey divides her time between Washington, D.C. and various cities in Europe — but keeps returning to the land of her ancestors, Ireland. She lived in Galway city last summer and will be returning for a second dose of Irish hospitality this summer. Here are a few of her favorite things about the “City of the Tribes.” Add your own two cents by leaving a comment.

Follow Molly’s story on Twitter @MollyEMcCluskey.

Galway is My City

Eyre Square. (Photograph by Huggs2, Flickr)

Eyre Square. (Photograph by Huggs2, Flickr)

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is for afternoon tea at Hotel Meyrick. It’s right next to the bus and train station, so it’s perfect for new arrivals in need of a rest and recharge. The historical hotel overlooks the lovely Eyre Square and is a great place to get one’s bearings.

Fall is the best time to visit my city because the crowds thin, there are exceptional festivals, and the weather isn’t truly terrible.

You can see my city best from the top of the Galway City Museum.

Locals know to skip the disco and check out a traditional ceilidh instead.

Judy Greene Pottery is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Liam O’Flaherty and Walter Macken have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Galway City Museum because the building houses both permanent and revolving exhibits, offers classes, and has a charming café. It also has free admission.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that the best way to see my city is by foot or bike. Everything’s accessible. 

"Best of" pick: the Galway City Museum. (Photograph by John Lord, Flickr)

“Best of” pick: the Galway City Museum. (Photograph by John Lord, Flickr)

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is in the Burren. Lace up your boots and go for a hike, but don’t wait for the sunshine. The place is stunning even when it’s overcast. If I want to go for a stroll, I walk along the River Corrib down to Salthill.

My city really knows how to celebrate being Irish! because there’s a festival for just about every aspect of life in Galway.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they greet you with “Howsa-goin’?”

Just outside my city, you can visit the Cliffs of Moher, a short bus ride away. If you hike far enough (and hop a fence), you can escape the tourists.

My city is known for being traditionally Irish in language, song, and dance, but it’s really also a modern, global city.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Galway Market on Church Lane.

Cupan Tae Tea Room is my favorite place to grab breakfast.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the lifestyle section of the Galway City Tribune.

My city’s biggest sports event is FAI Cup‘s annual football competition. Watch it at just about any pub in town.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I stop by the Galway Market for lunch from a cart, then stroll Shop Street and listen to the buskers.

The Cliffs of Moher. (Photograph by Adam Gimpert, Flickr)

The Cliffs of Moher. (Photograph by Adam Gimpert, Flickr)

To escape the crowds, I head out to Merlin Woods on the edge of town and view the wildlife.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Gwyneth Paltrow because it’s gorgeous, multi-faceted, and always interesting.

The dish that represents my city best is anything involving oysters, and a pint of Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale is my city’s signature drink.

The Black Box Theatre is my favorite building in town because there’s always an amazing and often unexpected performance to see.

The most random thing about my city is it’s home to the famed Claddagh ring — and has a tiny museum to prove it.

If you’re in the mood to dance, check out Halo. Take a nap first; it doesn’t open until 11 p.m.

The “Best Dressed Person Competition” on Ladies’ Day at the Galway Races could only happen in my city.

The Long Walk, where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic. (Photograph by Peter Gorman, Flickr)

The Long Walk, where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic. (Photograph by Peter Gorman, Flickr)

In the spring, you should check out the Galway Food Festival, featuring the best in local ingredients, chefs, and restaurants.

In the summer you should go swimming in Salthill. And don’t miss the Galway Arts Festival, where internationally renowned acts mingle with up-and-comers in a variety of venues.

In the fall you should take the ferry out to Inishmore. It’s wild and windswept and remote enough to make you feel like you’re standing on the edge of the world.

In the winter you should take a seat near the fireplace at the Kings Head Pub for free live music and a pint to warm you up.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the petting zoo and bouncy cages at Loughwell Farm Park.

The best book about my city is Juno and Juliet by Julian Gough, about a set of twins coming of age during their first year of college.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Galway Girl” by Steve Earle. Even if you could get the catchy rhythm out of your head (good luck!), you won’t be able to miss the plethora of T-shirts bearing the slogan in every souvenir shop you pass.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it’s got a thriving live music scene, fantastic restaurants, and is perfectly situated for exploring the west coast of Ireland.

Comments

  1. Barry
    July 7, 7:45 am

    Yes, agree with Fergal – FAI Cup is a non-event really – Galway Races is the big event – otherwise the All-Ireland Hurling or Football series depending on how Galway get on. Also some kick-boxing in the Black Box theatre if you’re so inclined!

  2. Fergal
    Ireland
    July 1, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Some nice answers. That FAI Cup being the biggest sporting event in the city was a disastrous answer though. Try the Galway Races (horseracing) or for watching sports in pubs around the city, try local sports “hurling” and “gaelic football”. Their hurling team is particularly good, reached the final last year. You could catch a game live close enough to the city sometimes too

  3. Josh
    Baltimore, MD
    June 13, 2013, 11:51 am

    I love Galway. I went backpacking through Ireland after college for a fun adventure. Galway and Doolin (small town south of Galway) were my favorite locations in the Country. I would go back in a second if I didn’t have a million other places I wanted to see as well.

  4. Paul Grealish
    The Kings Head Pub Galway
    June 12, 2013, 9:24 am

    Hi Molly, great article. Appreciate the mention of The Kings Head pub which my wife & I run. You offer fantastic tips for any visitor to Galway. Well done!
    Paul g

  5. Galway City Biodiversity
    Galway Ctiy
    June 11, 2013, 7:01 am

    Thank you for linking to our page on Merlin Woods! It truly is a haven for wildlife in the City and easily accessible from the City centre.
    Please have a look at the Friends of Merlin Woods campaign to save the woods from a proposed road development:
    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/galway-city-council-stop-the-council-building-a-road-through-merlin-woods-doughiska

  6. Jan Du Plain
    United States
    June 10, 2013, 12:22 am

    Thanks Molly–great article!

  7. mc g
    June 7, 2013, 12:07 pm

    how does living in a city for one summer make it “your” city?

  8. Roxanne McCaleb
    Dallas, Texas
    June 6, 2013, 11:45 am

    Your article makes me want to make Galway the next place I visit! Thanks for all the great suggestions!