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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Galway

Galway (Gaillimh, "Gailleamh's Place") is picturesquely situated at the northeast end of Galway Bay, at the point where the short tidal River Corrib, coming from Lough Corrib, pours its abundant flow of water into the Atlantic.

Galway is the see of the diocese of Galway county, and has a university (part of the National University of Ireland), in which much of the teaching is in Irish (summer courses for visitors in July and August). Irish culture and language are also promoted by the Irish theater, An Taiohbhearc. For centuries Galway had active trading relations with Spain, and it has preserved something of this Spanish influence. In the field of architecture, for instance, it is seen in the houses built round an open courtyard.

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Eyre Square

In the central area of Galway is Eyre Square (18th C.), now landscaped as a memorial to U.S. President J. F. Kennedy (J. F. Kennedy Memorial Garden) who was of Irish descent.

Browne's Gateway

On the northwest side of Eyre Square, in Galway's central area, stands Browne's Gateway, the doorway of an old patrician mansion which has been re-erected here. There is a striking monument in the square to the Irish language poet Pádraic O'Conaire (1882-1923), who is represented sitting on a rock. West of Eyre Square can be found the modern shopping center of the same name, which, with its cafes, has become a popular meeting place. Part of the old town wall has been restored and incorporated into the shopping center.

Lynch's Castle

Lynch's Castle (16th C.: National Monument), a large gray building with coats of arms on the facade, now occupied by a bank, was the residence of the Lynches, an aristocratic family which provided several mayors of Galway. One of the Lynches, while in office as mayor, condemned his own son to death for the murder of a young Spanish visitor and carried out the sentence with his own hands when no one else was willing to do it: hence the origin of the term "lynch law." A black marble tablet on the wall of the old prison in Market Street marks the spot where the execution is said to have taken place.

St Nicholas's Church

St Nicholas's Church (National Monument), in Market Street in Galway's central area, was built in the 14th C. and, although much altered in later centuries, has preserved the aspect of a medieval parish church. Notable features are the triple gables of the west front, the gargoyles (rare in Ireland) and, in the interior, a number of tombs and a reader's desk.

Nora Barnacle House

A short way away from St Nicholas's Church on Market Street in Galway's central area stands the house of Nora Barnacle, the wife of James Joyce. On Wednesdays in summer literary evenings are held here.
Address: Bowling Green, Ireland

Salmon Weir Bridge

The River Corrib is spanned by three bridges. The one farthest upstream, built in 1818, is the Salmon Weir Bridge, where hundreds of salmon can be seen in spring on their way up river to the huge expanse of Lough Corrib - a journey of only 4mi/6km from the sea.
There is a strong tidal movement on the river here, with a rapid ebb at low tide and an equally rapid flow upstream when the tide changes.
The middle bridge, O'Brien's Bridge, is the oldest, its existence being first recorded in 1342. The Claddagh Bridge (a swing bridge) at the south end of the town takes its name from an old fishermen's quarter on the right bank of the Corrib which was occupied for centuries by a fishermen's guild but has now given place to modern buildings. The only relic of the old guild is the "Claddagh ring," a traditional form of wedding ring with two hands clasping a heart which was worn as an amulet and handed down from mother to daughter.

Galway Court House

Near the Salmon Weir Bridge, on the east bank of the Corrib River in Galway, is the handsome classical Court House (1800).

Franciscan Friary

Near Galway's Salmon Weir Bridge, on the east bank of the Corrib river, is the Court House. Close by, on Frances Street. can be seen an old Franciscan Friary, with a chapel containing a number of fine tombs.

Galway Cathedral

Galway's Cathedral (St Nicholas and the Assumption), on the right bank of the Corrib River, was consecrated in 1965. One of the largest churches in Ireland (300ft/100m long x 155ft/47m wide), it occupies the site of a prison in which many Irish patriots were confined; the cost of building it was met almost wholly by public subscription. Good mosaics in the side chapels.

Spanish Arch

On the east side of the Corrib, below Claddagh Bridge, is the old town gate known as the Spanish Arch, leading to Spanish Parade, once the favorite promenade of Spanish merchants.

Galway City Museum

In Galway's central area, on the east side of the Corrib, below Claddagh Bridge, is the old town gate known as the Spanish Arch, leading to Spanish Parade, once the favorite promenade of Spanish merchants. The arch now houses the Galway City Museum, with material on the history of Galway and old weapons found in Galway Bay.

Galway Harbor

Near the Spanish Arch is the busy Galway harbor. The boats to the Aran Islands sail from the east side of the harbor, at the end of Lough Atalia Road; (air services available, too).

Galway Arts Festival

This annual week-long festival runs from late July to early August and includes a wide variety of events. Performers from Ireland and the rest of the world are invited to participate in events including classical music concerts, poetry readings, art exhibitions and theatrical performances.
Address: Black Box Theatre, Dyke Rd., Ireland

Galway Oyster Festival

This annual week-long festival takes place in late September and is completely dedicated to the oyster. The festival begins with an Oyster Opening Championship, which draws competitors from around the world. The opened oysters are then used throughout the week for oyster buffets and other culinary delights.
Address: Áras Failte, Ireland

Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Center

The center introduce the history and culture of the west of Ireland. Visitors can learn about the craft process at Galway Irish Crystal and see how the heritage of Galway has inspired crafts people for decades.
Address: Merlin Park, Dublin Road, Ireland


Claregalway, Ireland

Northeast of Galway on the N17, Claregalway has the ruins of a Franciscan friary (National Monument) founded in 1290 and enlarged in the 15th C. On a tombstone in the church is a representation of a primitive plough.


6mi/9km east of the town of Galway, at Carnmore, lies Galway's airfield, from which there are regular flights by Aer Arann to the Aran Islands and Dublin.

Clarinbridge, Ireland

McDonagh's Pub in Oranmore, County Galway.
Going south from Carnmore, Galway's airfield, to Oranmore, on the N18, we come to Clarinbridge, a pretty little village where the excellent local oysters and shellfish can be sampled. An Oyster Festival is held here in September.

Kilcolgan, Ireland

1.25mi/2km beyond Clarinbridge, at Kilcolgan, the N67 branches off on the right. 0.75mi/1km west of the main road can be seen the ruined Drumacoo Church (National Monument), with finely carved windows and doorway. Here, too, is St Surney's Well, a notable holy well.


Galway Bay seen from Salthill.
Immediately west of Galway and now joined onto it is Salthill, a leading seaside resort on the north side of Galway Bay. Its Irish name is Bothar na Tra ("Shore Road"). From the beautiful seafront promenade above a broad sandy beach there are extensive views of the hills of Clare, the Burren and the Aran Islands.


Rocky beach at Spiddal.
West of Galway the R336 follows the coast from Salthill to Barna and Spiddal, a pretty little resort with good fishing. This coastal area is a great favorite with artists and photographers.

Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara, Ireland

Donegal Castle.
Dunguaire Castle is a small 17th C. castle on a rocky promontory, situated on the shores of Galway Bay. The restored castle gives an insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived from 1520 to modern times. Medieval banquets are held twice nightly subject to demand.

Mervue - Royal Tara Visitor Centre

Royal Tara China is housed in a Queen Anne/ Georgian style mansion that was formerly the seat of the Joyces'. Visitors can tour the factory to see the craftspeople create the hand made pieces.

Patrick Pearse's Cottage (Teach an Phiarsaigh)

This was the summer house for Patrick Pearse, the educationalist and nationalist. The interior was burned during the War of Independence and has been restored. It now contains a number of mementos of Pearse.
Address: Ros Muc., Ireland

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