Galway or Gaillimh is the 3rd largest city in Ireland and situated on the West Coast.
Galway is often referred to as the Bilingual city, although like in most other places in Ireland, the locals do use the English language primarily. But, Galway holds its celtic traditions of language, music and culture very strongly and the university holds UNESCO status for its archive of Celtic languages.
To get a good idea and sense of history of the city, visit the Galway Museum down by the River Corrib and the Spanish Arch. Open Tue - Sat. 10am to 5pm and it is free of charge. As well as relics from early life in the city, there are exhibitions of Galway's involvement in World War 1 and when President Kennedy came to visit in 1963.
Galway is rich in its architecture with what is said to be one of Irelands best Medieval town houses Lynch Castle, situated right in the heart of the city centre. Although this is now a bank, it still will be a must see on any walking tour throughout the city, as will the Cathedral and Eyre Square. Grab a map from the tourist information centre and just set off or book on one of the many walking tours offered daily.
The city is host to many sporting, music and art festivals throughout the year. Its newest edition is the Volvo Ocean Race, when the round the world yacht race passes through. Other big events are the Oyster Festival, Arts Festival, The Races and the Pride Festival.
Sport is a big part of Galway life, with Gaelic sports such as hurling and gaelic football, irish soccer, rugby and even greyhound racing. With a big stadium located in the city hosting many events, it is easy to grab a ticket and get involved. If you would rather participate in exercise than just watch it, a short bus or car drive along Galway bay to the suburb of Salthill is a large swimming baths, as well as an accompanying aquarium.
Or you could walk, bike or perhaps roller blade the 5km along the promenade from Claddagh, and witness outstanding views across the bay or if you are feeling brave take a dip in the water! The west coast of Ireland is also known for its surfing, with many places to venture out available along the coastline.
There is also an unbeatable selection of pubs all over the city centre, the staff at the Tourist Information Centre, are extremely helpful in advising on which to visit, should you want quiet local pubs, ones playing traditional music, ones showing sporting events or serving traditional food. Or, just have a wander and see which seem inviting, you are guaranteed a warm welcome whichever you choose.
With days trips to the outstanding Connemara, Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher leaving Galway city daily and only a 4 hour bus trip from Dublin, there is no excuse not to make Galway a stop off during any visit to Ireland.
Written and contributed by _emmajane_