48 Hours in Galway – Your First Full Day

Great food and lots of amazing places to see. Let’s start…

While most of the local hotels host extensive breakfast buffet offerings, we recommend filling your belly with some galway bay smoked salmon and free range poached eggs from The Huntsman (https://www.huntsmaninn.com/breakfast.html). The Huntsman is only about a 10 minute walk from the city centre, close by the Galway Greyhound track. It is a landmark pub that has been part of Galway for many decades and is a staple for many hungry patrons. 

Now that you are fuelled up and ready to go, it’s time to see the city. The best way to do this is by navigating the Canal Walk. It is approximately 9/10 kilometres in total and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. The entire walk starts and ends at Galway Atlantaquaria in Salthill. Starting there and following the promenade towards the city you will have breathtaking views of Galway Bay (where you will be cruising tomorrow!). You will pass Grattan Beach, perhaps walk out to Mutton Island and stroll through South Park overlooking Claddagh Beach. There could be no finer views to begin your walk and introduce you to the cityscape. Making your way over Wolfe Tone Bridge will be your first step into the city and the start of your self-guided walk in this historic city. Don’t be alarmed if at any point along your canal walk you see a consenting adrenaline-seeker being thrown off a bridge while sitting in a kayak, this is a completely normal thing even though it may give you heart palpitations… 

Along your walk you will see remnants of the old city including the walls and buildings. Two of the most recognisable are the Spanish Arch and Lynch’s Castle. The Spanish Arch was built to give people access from The Long Walk promenade to the town centre. Despite the common misconception, there is no relation to Spain, ‘Spanish Arch’ is just the name the arch has been given. Lynch’s Castle, which was built by the Lynch family, one of the 14 Tribes of Galway, is now a bank and it holds the title of being the oldest building in Ireland still in commercial use today. They just don’t build them like that anymore. One local story recounts how Mayor Lynch’s tearaway son Walter stabbed a respected Spanish sailor in a fit of jealous rage, over suspicions conerning his sweetheart, Agnes.  Walter was fairly charged, convicted and sentenced to hang, but the local hangmen would not carry out the sentence, for fear of upsetting the Mayor and the rest of this powerful family. So the Mayor brough Walter to an upstairs room in the family castle and then embraced his son, before putting the noose around his son’s neck and pushing him from the window, in full view of the street below. The Mayor held the other end of the rope until his son was hanged and this is apparently the origin of the verb  ‘to lynch’ and the phrase ‘lynch-mob’. Was this an act of savage brutality or Statesmanly integrity? You decide.

Heading in the direction of Galway Cathedral you will find yourself in Galway’s West End. The Cathedral here was built in 1958 using old stones from a prison that stood on that same spot. It is the last stone cathedral in Europe. John F. Kennedy once visited the church and a mosaic artwork piece was added to the rose stained glass windows to honour his life and his support of the cathedral. Do some exploring in the West End and pop into The Secret Garden Tea Shop (https://www.secretgardengalway.com) and take a look at their selection of over 100 teas. Make your way back to Salthill and sit on the steps of the pier and take in the seascape while sipping on a delicious coffee from Ground & Co (https://groundandco.ie). 

It’s time for a night on the town, starting at Hyde Bar & Gin Parlour (https://hydebargalway.ie). It stocks over 500 gins from around the world and you will find plenty of tasty, alcohol-free ‘mocktails’  in this modern, stylish, exciting bar. Once you have tried a few of the recommended blends and sampled all the food Hyde Bar has to offer, it’s off to hear some live music because you can’t possibly come to Galway without experiencing a trad session. One of the best places in Galway to do that is the good ol’ Roisin Dubh (https://roisindubh.net). Here, you will get to experience the vibrant atmosphere, attentive staff and a bucket full of ceol agus craic. Since opening its doors a decade ago, Ed Sheeran, Steve Mason, Imelda May, DJ Yoda, Ray Davies and so many more have performed here. Many of these performances were impromptu so you never know who you might see – or hear – in here! In fact, depending on what night you go, you could find it turned into a comedy club. Stewart Lee and Rich Hall have said that it is actually one of their top venues across the world. Roisin Dubh is one of the driving forces behind the Galway Comedy Festival.