Montag, 5. August 2013



This post is part of my Travel Picks and Tips from my recent visit to England, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria in April/May 2013. To simplify things, I have divided up my posts into areas in each of these countries. This post is about Galway, Ireland. Click on any of the following links to take you to other regions/countries of your interest. I hope to enlighten and share with those who wish to travel to these areas with some of the highlights of my adventures in these beautiful parts of the world.

 This post: GALWAY
Also see  London, Oxford, & Chester ENGLAND/ Dingle, IRELAND
My bio and full Itinerary  for this trip can be found in the post:
On a beautiful Monday morning in Manchester, England, I boarded my Aer Lingus flight to whisk me away to the Emerald Isle*. As I planned on spending all of my time on the west coast on this trip, I opted to fly into the small regional airport of Shannon rather than Dublin as my destination.

*IRISH TIDBIT Why is Ireland called the Emerald Isle? Actually it has nothing to do with the nice romantic stories of how "green" the foliage is in the morning, "with dewdrops glistening like emeralds" or tales of Leprechauns and fairies. It actually has to do with how Pope Adrian IV "gave" Ireland and its people to England, under the rule of King Henry II in 1171! Until that time, the Pope and Church were the only rulers of Ireland. King Henry II persuaded the Pope to allow him to "take the land of Ireland" on condition that he suppress the ancient Celtic or Culdee Church, and brought the island and its people into complete submission to Rome. In return for this "gift", King Henry bestowed upon Pope Adrian IV an enormous Emerald ring, which can  still be seen worn by Popes in more recent years, such as Pope John XXIII! So Ireland was given up to the English in return for a ring. Very sad...and the Irish have never properly forgiven the English ever since...

Anyhow, back to Shannon Airport...

TRAVEL TIDBIT Did you know that Irish Coffees were invented at the Shannon Airport to warm up the first international American passengers arriving at Shannon Airport on Pan Am flights in the 1940's?

In my case, it was a short flight and not that cold upon arrival, so no need for an Irish Coffee upon landing :)  After I had collected my luggage I made my way to the car rental counter where I had quite the surprise awaiting me.

CAR RENTAL TIP FOR IRELAND The Republic of Ireland does not accept any car insurance through third parties such as VISA, or other personal insurance programs. Always take out the offered insurance when making one's reservations on-line. If you don't, you will get dinged either with a huge deposit to cover the cost of the car...or a 30+- Euro a day mandatory insurance policy. I made this mistake, as I was using my US Visa card to pay for my car rentals and who (in all other countries) will indeed cover all insurance on car rentals in Europe. The "great deal" I thought I had with my Irish rental turned into the most expensive rental of my whole trip!

OK, so, now I have my very expensive rental car and I head north for short 50 minute drive to Galway - a city I had not yet discovered. I decided to visit Galway, because I had heard that it has a rich history, a lively Irish pub life, and to boot, my supplier of beautiful Irish Stained Glass Ornaments was based there. Bingo! Justification to spend a couple of days discovering Galway.

Galway Harbour
I chose to stay the Harbour Hotel, which is a short walk from Eyre Square and the colorful downtown and an easy to find location with free, secure parking. The hotel is situated on the harbour which I also loved, and across the street from a very old and famous cemetery called the Forthill Cemetary, established in 1500. I understand one just might find a long lost relative or two, should you have stemmed from that area of Ireland many generations ago.

Friendly staff greeted my after my long journey beginning in the wee hours of the morning that am in England and offered to take my bags to my room and asked if I wanted to take an Afternoon Tea in their well appointed lobby or in my room - people after my own heart! I opted for my room, and was delivered the most delightful Afternoon Tea for me to refresh and re-energize.
Light Afternoon Tea at the Harbour Hotel
The rooms are modern, large and fairly quiet, with Wi-Fi for the business traveler and a fitness center to grab a quick work-out before stepping out for the day or the evening.

The hotel is locally owned and family run and most of the staff have been working for the hotel since it opened

My well appointed room at the
Harbour Hotel
The Harbour Hotel also works with local tour companies and can organize exciting day trips to the breathtaking countryside of Connemara (including the romantic Kylemore Abbey - still run by nuns), or an excursion to the tragic beauty of the Burren with its 6000 year old Dolman Tomb, or a visit to the famous Cliffs of Moher, or an exciting boat ride to the Aaron Islands.That is once one has had enough exploring the City of Galway itself!

In all, I had a delightful stay at the Harbour Hotel and would definitely stay there again. I loved its location within a short stroll from the bustling city centre, but which was much quieter than places near Eyre Square. I got my night life in, but also my rest when I was ready to retire.

Harbour Hotel - New Dock Road, Galway City Centre Tel. 091-894-800 

Guiness, Guiness everywhere!

Feeling relaxed and refreshed after my lovely arrival and afternoon tea at the Harbour Hotel, I popped by the reception who gave me a map and pointed out some places of interest I should see on my evening self walking tour of the city. I set out with a short walk along the harbor before turning into the City in search of the famous Eyre Square, the heart of Galway City.
Once found, I wandered towards an area looking like what I imagined the old-fashioned Galway city centre to look like...colourful rows of buildings on lively narrow streets hosting shops, pubs and restaurants. Shop Street, Upper Cross Street and Quay Streets I found the most interesting and bustling with that good 'ol Irish energy.
Part of Thomas Dillon's
on Quay St
On the corner of Quay St and Upper Cross Street the Thomas Dillon Jewelry Shop caught my eye, as it claims to be the oldest maker of Claddagh Rings in Ireland. I already had my heart set on purchasing a Claddagh ring for myself (the ring of Love and Friendship), however I had already promised myself that IF I found a Claddagh that stirred my heart, it would have to be in Dingle, which is where my heart lies in Ireland. Never-the-less, Thomas Dillon's shop had a Claddagh Ring Museum attached, which, if it had been open, I would have loved to have visited.

Cute Pet Shop on Quay St
I passed by The Galway Pet Store, which was also closed, but which I thought was darling in its red and blue paint. I was dying to pop in, but alas I was too late. Many of the shops close at 5 or 6pm in this area of town, giving way to the many pubs who take over for the evening!


And now for some of the interesting pubs I saw and would have loved to have popped into, had I had the time and somebody to Sláinte with on this segment of my trip.
Sehan Ua Neachtain Pub - Cozy Irish Atmosphere

The Sehan Ua Neachtain Pub - better known as Tigh Neachtain' or Naughton's on Upper Cross Street caught my eye, as it looks like a book shop turned inside out. Upon reading about this famous pub, I know I will go there the next time I am in town, as it hosts sessions and has snugs and is well known for it's cozy Irish atmosphere.

McDonagh's Pub - Best Fish N Chips
Then there was McDonagh's, also on Quay St...which I though a play on words for McDonalds...or perhaps that was just me! They are a four generation establishment and are known for their fish and chips and seafood. Another place I must try when I am in Galway again.

Great Sessions! Voted Galway's No. 1 Music Pub
And finally, I walked by Tig Coili, evidently one of the most famous pubs in Galway for Irish traditional music 7 nights a week. Another tick on my list for when I am in Galway next, which hopefully won't be that long!

e. Brun Bar - A Local's Hangout
After wandering through the centre of Galway, I made my way across a bridge to Domenick St, where the Hotel told me I could find some great, trendy "non touristy" restaurants where the folk of Galway often dined. I eyed up a couple of restaurants and it was still early...only, I now fancied a drink at a pub, and wandered into a small pub on Domenick St called  the e. Brun Bar.
Sláinte from the locals at the e. Brun Bar

Irish Cider
The e. Brun Bar is a lovely conversion of a once corner post office and tea shop. It has been tastefully restored with stained glass windows.
It is classified as "the smallest pub in Galway", but with the biggest character. It is truly a local's hang-out, and I was greeted by a bar full of friendly Irish lads having their after work pints. They all immediately offered to buy me a drink, and a drink I did let them buy me. As I don't drink Guiness, or any beer for that matter - I know shame on me!, I chose another Irish favourite, a Bulmer's Cider which was cool and refreshing, adding a splash of Blackcurrent to give it colour. We all had a Sláinte and a nice chat, during which I learned that the bar tender, Tom McDonagh (sound familiar?), had achieved an award for pouring Galway's perfect pint! So I had made it to a famous bar after all!

The original Postmaster e. Brun - She sort of
looks like my Irish Grandma!


View from my table at Rouge
Once I had peeled myself away from the over zealous lads wanting to buy me multiple drinks at e. Brun, I walked back up the street to the one restaurant that had caught my fancy.

Restaurant Français Rouge. It turned out I had hit quite the jack pot...or should I say pot of gold?

Rouge is a French restaurant, with an amazing gourmet menu at great prices and a relaxing, romantic atmosphere. With candles dripping onto the tables, stone walls and beamed ceilings, and a pianist playing soft tunes on the grand piano, one could not ask for more enjoyable ambience, not to mention that all of the staff, from the chef down to the bus boys were all French. 

Rouge has a prix fix menu with starters and main courses to choose from starting at only 15 Euro's. Everything from the Amuse-bouche down to the main dish and the fantastic French wines they poured for each course was superb. I got in early on a Monday night by luck without a reservation, however by the time I left, the place was packed and my table was indeed already booked for a later reservation.

Reservations highly recommended!

ROUGE  38 Dominick St, Galway Tel. 091-530681


Night time shot of the Spanish Arch & Medieval Wall
On the way home, I passed by the famous Spanish Arch, which was erected in 1584 as an extension to the City Wall of Galway. Galway, founded in 1124 as a defensive fort, quickly became an important city for international trade and in Medieval times, being the principal Irish port for trade between Spain and France to the Western Isles. It was a melting pot of many different cultures, with sailors intermarrying with the Irish over generations. Therefore the interesting mix of continental restaurants, such as Rouge, to this day in the City.

Romantic Kylemore Abbey
The next morning, I visited the Galway City Museum, next to the Spanish Arch, which was informative and free. There is a lot do in Galway, however unfortunately, my time was limited as I was due in Dingle that evening.  Next time I plan on visiting the Galway Cathedral and making a trip to Connemara to see the dreamy beaches and to visit the romantic Kylemore Abbey.


Cupan Tae - Galway's finest Tea Shop
After my visit to the Galway museum, I saw across the way Cupan Tae... an Irish Tea shop. Not having breakfast and almost lunchtime with a long drive to Dingle ahead of me, I decided to stop in "for a cuppa".

Alison McArdle, Proprietress, with her home made cakes and
fine China Tea Pots
And what a delightful family run tea shop I had discovered! The proprietress, Alison McArdle was professional and enthusiastic. She told me they make all of their baked goods in house and their selection of 27 teas are the finest.

The café is decorated with sweet lacy table linens matching the lacy curtains in the windows.  Everything was served on the family's own fine bone china dating back generations.

What really sold me on going in was the sign placed strategically by its front door:

Cupan Tae  8 Quay, Latin Quarter, Spanish Arch, Galway   Tel. 091-895000


Check out all pictures of my trip on

ME! In a pre-historic
Irish Bee Hive Hut
Enjoy your visit to Galway and please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions when planning your own trip to England, Ireland or Europe! After living in and travelling to Europe for almost 30 years, I love to help and recommend as and when I can!
Mary Dawn DeBriae
European Tips and Picks
Alpen Schatz Style
Spring Euro Trip 2013

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