6 months in Galway, the vibrant city of the West

Trip Start Jan 09, 2012
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Trip End Jul 14, 2012


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Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Monday, January 16, 2012

I did more than visiting Galway, I lived and worked there during 6 months. Galway, approximately 100K inhabitants, is not a big city compared to French big cities (approximately 100K inhabitants) but first of all it is the third biggest Irish city and secondly it is a lively and vibrant city compared to some cities of the same size in France.

I was living in the Docks, on a residence with a amazing view on the Galway docks from my living room and balcony. I really advise to people coming for several months like me to find a flat sharing as, first of all, the prices for renting an apartment are really expensive in Ireland, and secondly because it is the best way to meet people. I have lived those 6 months with two Irish flat mates, a guy coming from Kerry and a girl coming from Mayo. I really enjoy this experience as they were really nice and friendly, thanks to them I learned a lot about Irish culture and I also could improve my English. The docks is a good place to live as it is really quiet when you come back from partying and in the other hand, it is 5 minutes walking from the city center.

As it is written above, Galway is a vibrant city and I really liked going in the colorful main street, Shop Street, because there was always a lot of people going to shops or pubs. The week-end, the street was packed of people with all 10 meters music bands playing. To go out at night, the city is amazing, every pub is packed and the atmosphere is really friendly, you can easily talk to people and people easily come to talk to you. Ireland is also for sure the country of the pub and the biggest and more beautiful pubs I have ever seen were in Galway. An example is the Quays, a pub in Quays street (the continuation of Shop Street) where we used to go a lot with friends. The first time we saw this pub, we thought when standing outside that it was a small pub because we just see the front of the bar. But when we entered, we realized that there was a big main room and that you could turn all around it via raised corridors and balconies. And that was just the first part of the pub: the ground floor. After, we realized that there was also a first and second floor for the club part. The Quays is a really gorgeous and original pub: to build it, the owners used the decor of an old chapel so it is all about woodwork and stained-glass. In the club part, just behind where the music bands use to play, you can admire a massive organ.

Galway is also known as the City of the Tribes as fourteen tribes led the city to an age of prosperity. The city is the heart of the traditional Irish culture. In Galway and Connacht, you will find the most traditional pubs of Ireland but there is also some Gaelic speaking areas closed to Galway.

Ireland, it is also the Rugby spirit and Galway is not an exception. In Ireland (if we take Northern Ireland), there is 4 teams representing each province: Ulster for the north and Belfast, Munster for the south and Cork, Leinster for the east and Dublin, and Connacht for the west and Galway. Irish people are very proud of their team and if you go to each province, you will see one each house (or at least each pub) the rugby province flag. One day, coming back from some shopping, I found one untied on the street so I took it as memory. I have also watched some games of the Connacht team with some friends at the local stadium, the Sportsground. One of those game was against the rival province, Munster. Even if it is a small stadium there (capacity of 7000), the atmosphere is great. People are sometimes singing and it's like they are 40000 in the stadium as they really give voice.

Galway is also really enjoyable to live because of the sea. I used to go running on the Claddagh and cycling around the Galway Bay, there is lot of beautiful landscapes to see around Galway. I have been for some rides close to Kinvarra on the south of the Bay (there is a nice castle on the bay) or in Barna (west of Galway). If you have the car, you can also go in County Clare in the south, there is the impressive Cliffs of Moher, and if you want to see the Connemara, you just have to drive little more than one hour north from Galway to be at Clifden, the heart of Connemara. In Galway city, you can visit Saint Nicolas church (close to shop street), the Galway massive Cathedral (not very beautiful for me), the University (NUIG) is also nice to visit and very vast. But in Galway, the best thing to do is to explore all the small streets (and particularly the ones close to Shop Street which are full of life) and to stop in a pub whatever the time of the day to take a coffee, a burger or a beer for sure!

There is also lots of events organized during the summer, the Art Festival, the Galway Horses’ Races and all the two years the Volvo Ocean Race. During my stay in Ireland, I was lucky as I could enjoy during one week the Volvo Ocean Race. Galway is the last step of this yacht team race around the world (total of 9 legs). The event is focused on the race but there is also a lot of things organized around. For example, there were every days concerts on the docks so I could see it from my living room and balcony. The city was much more packed than usual during this week. There was this year approximately 1 million people visiting. This week was really enjoyable and I had a lot of fun with friends and flat mates.

To conclude, I would say that if you go visiting Ireland, you cannot ignore Galway. Just stop here some days to visit the city and the area during the day and to enjoy the pubs and clubs during the night. Galway is also very nice city to live in if you don’t like big cities or if you want to stay some times in a medium scale friendly city.
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