At this point most people know that I’m from Mayo but Galway has well and truly stolen my heart, (except when it comes to sport obviously) It’s a truly special place, the old adage of Galway being the graveyard of ambition is beyond a farce, most people’s ambition is to be happy and I’ve rarely seen as many happy faces anywhere else I’ve visited. Here’s a few reasons why I believe its Ireland’s greatest treasure.
The only city on the Wild Atlantic Way is famous for its festivals, some say Galway has more festivals than I’ve had first dates. With 65 festivals that I can think of the figure is obviously much lower than my dating endeavours but it’s still an impressive tally. There is genuinely something for everyone from the most famous and my annual highlight The Galway Races, to the Galway International Arts Festival to a Ukulele Festival in September and everything in between. The diversity in this tiny place is heart warming, easy to see why its Europes Capital of Culture in 2020.
Galway is technically a city but it’s a town really, while the traffic is a serious issue once you have the car parked up it’s a joy to circumnavigate. Shop Street itself is a tonic, no matter what day of the year you make your way down it’s cobbled streets the vibe is just amazing. You can’t leave Shop Street in a bad mood, even if you get caught in a Galway shower, but if you’re not prepared for a drop of rain in Galway then it’s your own fault, and I know a man that wants to sell you a few jars of Galway air. From end to end Galway is a comfortable walk and with heels you can easily enjoy a tour of the city on a night out.
In the last few years Galway has become a gastronomic hub with a sensational array of excellent eateries. From Michelin Star restaurants to brilliant barfood, instagramable café’s, epic pizzas, sensational seafood and mouth-watering burger joints, its now wonder the prom is always so busy with people trying to walk off the amazing dishes. I created a list of places I want to try last year and despite working my way through a fair few the list continues to grow. Galway is a treasure for foodies there are a few people in particular that were catalysts for this but it’s great to see the passion for food spread across the city and county.
I often get asked, why “Galway Player” why not “Mayo Player” and its an easy response, you think of Mayo you think of football, you can mention Galway to someone and you just watch them glaze over momentarily as they fondly recall a childhood holiday or a weekend away with friends. Galway is hands down the best place to go out in Ireland, 7 nights a week, 364 days a year you will find a session and a great atmosphere in some or all of the cities amazing pubs. As someone who works in the hospitality industry I am painfully aware of the blood sweat and tears that go into creating the unique Galway spirt. From the buzz of students mid week to tourists in the early evening, to the locals catching up it’s always a good night out in Galway. For a town the endures so much rain it has some exceptional beer gardens and some of the friendliest bar staff you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.
Speaking of friendly people that’s probably what I love most about this place. I came to Galway a very shy lad from Bonniconlon but partly down to my love of sport and mainly down to the people I have loved every second in this place. One of my fondest memories was the Galway 2020 announcement, I was on Mainguard Street amongst a 2000 strong crowd awaiting the announcement. After weeks of tireless campaigning in with the business pulled together in an inspiring fashion, I was standing on the podium under the huge screen (where else would I be) and to watch the sheer joy and emotion from an extremely diverse yet passionate group of onlookers was honestly inspiring.