Galway and the West of Ireland
Galway city is the cultural heart of the west of Ireland, poets, writers and artists have continually been attracted to the city renowned for its vibrant lifestyle, fascinating history and proud literary tradition.
Galway’s streets are full of history, yet still maintain a contemporary feel. Students make up a quarter of the city’s population, with the university, N.U.I. Galway, located just a short walk from the city centre. The medieval town walls sit beside shops selling handcrafted Claddagh rings, treasure troves of secondhand and new books and local craftwork. A long promenade connects the city with the seaside suburb of Salthill, situated on Galway Bay, home of the region’s famous oysters.
Galway is also world-famous for its entertainment scene, with many pubs hosting traditional music most nights of the week. During the day people frequent Galway’s many old-fashioned cafes and restaurants, dotted throughout some of the charming, narrow cobblestone streets. Please see our sponsors page for tips of places to visit while here for the best food, drink and Irish hospitality: cuirt.ie/partners-a-sponsors
Day Trips and Tours:
Galway city is positioned ideally for those looking for a base from which to explore the West of Ireland, especially the breathtaking natural beauty of Connemara and the Burren.
Connemara is one of the most scenic regions in Ireland. Its rugged mountain peaks, expansive sandy beaches and laced network of lakes exemplify the peaceful solitude and weathered beauty of this region that lies on the edge of Western Europe. Galway is the perfect base for exploring the region, with many tour companies based in the city offering a variety of excursions to Connemara and the Aran Islands.
The Burren, like Connemara, is also of Ireland’s truly unique landscapes. It is located in north-west County Clare, just a 40-minute drive south from Galway city. This spectacular region covers over 250 sq. km, and is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. It is an area of scenic sublimity where the clear light, reflected from the stone-grey hills, seems to radiate an air of timelessness, which is made more realistic by the presence of the many prehistoric remains that dot the fields and the valleys beneath. Its rich archaeological heritage includes over 400 stone enclosures and 70 megalithic tombs, along with a considerable number of impressive tower houses and early churches.
One of Ireland’s most famous literary landmarks, Coole Park, is located 30km south of Galway city, just outside the town of Gort. Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, dramatist, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre with Edward Martyn of Tullira Castle and Nobel prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats. Please visit: http://www.coolepark.ie/
Web links and Further Information:
The Fáilte Ireland and Discover Ireland websites are packed full of further information about Galway and the West of Ireland:
Here are a selection of links to companies offering a wide range of tours around Galway and the West of Ireland:
Cúirt Tour of Galway’s Poetry and Prose Plaques
Enjoy a tour celebrating great writing on Galway, which features prose and poetry cast onto bronze plaques and erected for public delight and enlightenment in various locations throughout the city. The itinerary, listed below, follows a delightful literary ramble along Galway’s parks, canals and paths. Each plaque was unveiled as part of the Cúirt festival in conjunction with Galway City Council. At Cúirt 2012, a new plaque dedicated to James Joyce will be unveiled at the Rahoon Cemetery on Monday 23rd April at 2pm.
1. Meeting Point / Start: The historic 19th century Quadrangle building at the National University of Ireland, Galway, which first opened its doors to 63 students on 30th October 1849.
2. The first plaque on the tour presents ‘Uncle Philip’ by the renowned English poet Roger McGough, and features illustrations by Tom Matthews. It is located in the Children’s Millennium Playground on the wall by the end of the entrance ramp.
3. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the canal to where Moya Cannon’s ‘Bright City’ can be found on the Claddagh side of Wolfe Tone Bridge. Some of the swans mentioned in the poem might be encountered on your way to the next stop.
4. A plaque dedicated to Louis McNeice, featuring his poem ‘Galway,’ is impressively located at the end of Nimmo’s Pier. Louis wrote this poem on the pier in 1939 after hearing the news of the beginning of World War II.
5. Also situated in the Claddagh area is an extract from Walter Macken’s The Rain on the Wind. This plaque was unveiled during Cúirt 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Galway writer’s passing.
6. From Nimmo’s Pier the tour takes in the beautiful seaside sights and sounds of the Long Walk and the Salthill Promenade. Seamus Heaney’s ‘Girls Bathing, Galway, 1965’ is located by Ladies’ Beach across the road from the Galway Bay Hotel.
7. Just a short walk further down the promenade will bring you to the final stop on the tour. Across the path from the yellow swimmer’s shelter is a plaque featuring ‘Fear na Lasraí’, or, ‘The Lamplighter’, by Máirtín O’Direáin, who was once known as Ireland’s unofficial ‘Poet Laureate’.