Galway, Ireland

Lively Galway on Ireland’s west coast is a favorite of travelers from all over. It is the most bilingual of Ireland’s cities, with a full-time Irish theater. It is the capital of the Connacht Province, founded as a fortress community by the King of Connacht in 1124 on the banks of the Corrib River. By the medieval era, it was a thriving port. Christopher Columbus visited in 1477, his curiosity aroused by a strange couple who arrived “from Cathay” on a raft or boat “made from two logs,” thought now to have possibly been Inuits carried by the North Atlantic Current. The modern Galway City Museum is a good place to catch up on the city’s history. The Spanish Arch is a remnant of the town’s 16th Century walls, and a popular gathering place for listening to the many buskers and street performers who frequent Galway. Another hotspot is Eyre Square. Many brightly painted pubs also feature live traditional Irish music. The oldest church is St. Nicholas’s Collegiate Church from 1320. The National University of Ireland Galway holds the UNESCO Archive of the Spoken Gaelic Language. The smallest museum in Ireland is the Nora Barnacle House in Bowling Green, the abode of the lover, and later wife of James Joyce. A perfect souvenir of your visit would be a traditional Claddagh Ring, adorned with a crown and two hands clasped around a heart. The design originated in the ethnic Irish enclave of Claddagh outside Galway’s walls.