My love affair with Galway, Ireland

My love affair with Galway Ireland was intense, real, and as it is with many great loves, over all too soon.

Galway was the final destination during my two-week stay on the Emerald Isle, and I certainly saved the best for last. I heard a few years back that Galway was the epicenter for music in Ireland, and being an enormous fan of live music, I decided I need to spend at least a solid three days there.

By the time I left I was wishing I had planned an entire extra week to spend there!

Galway Ireland

I fell head-over-heels in love with Galway in only three days. There was something so magical about it that even a month after returning to Spain, it’s still never far from my mind. I’m so crazy about it that I’m trying to figure out how to spend a couple of months there next summer. I know that sounds like a big jump for only having spent a few days there, especially for a commitaphobe, but my obsession with live music runs deep.

Not only is the music scene in Galway unbelievable, but the people are beyond friendly and have an unparalleled sense of humor, which is perfect for a goofball like myself. Although it is a bit smaller than I’d prefer, I don’t think I’ve found another city that felt like such a fantastic fit for me.

Luckily Galway doesn’t have any tropical beaches, or I’d probably move there for good, never to be heard from again. But as it is, my love of palm trees and mangoes would draw me away eventually 😉

Galway Ireland
Galway (taken by Mindclick via Flickr)

The Music

I was lucky enough to be in Galway during their Jazz Music Festival, however, I only went to one show since it was held in a theater-type venue with the audience in a darkened formal seating arrangement, and I was really aching to get a taste of the music scene in a rowdier pub setting. The jazz show I did attend was a treat, with a truly talented band from France called Beware the Dogz (check them out!)

One of the directors of the Jazz Festival spoke before the show and explained that due to the strong music culture in Galway, and in particular the young people’s desire to listen to more jazz, the city decided to bring in jazz acts from all over the world just to make them happy.

What a neat culture, right?! The kids want music, the city gives them music. (Yeah, pretty much the opposite of Bomont)

Galway Ireland
Galway Buskers (Photo by Patrick Dinneen via Flickr)

One of the things that resonated most with me about Ireland, is the importance their culture places on music and socializing.

The two are strongly intertwined, albeit usually with some Guinness thrown in for good measure, and in my opinion there are few things better in life than spending time with some great friends and good music.

Galway Ireland
Since one Guinness fills you up like a meal, you might want to substitute a whiskey ginger or two 😉

Galway’s music culture is so strong that you can find incredible live acts in multiple pubs, every night of the week.

In fact, the night I experienced the most live music was actually a Sunday! I can’t remember exactly how late I was rocking out until (oops!) but I think it may have been close to 6AM. On a Sunday night. And the quality of the bands was unreal, even at 4AM!

Galway’s tradition of extremely high-quality music attracts the best acts from all over the country, and presumably other countries, that are eager to strut their stuff for the music-hungry crowd in Galway. 

You can literally walk anywhere in Eyre Square and find great music, but one sure bet is The Quays. They have two levels, with the upper level being reserved for main acts that tend to start pretty late at night. There might be a cover for the upper level, but the band I saw there was so mind-blowing and the cover went to a charity for children, that I didn’t mind coughing up the 10 euros. Not to mention it had the most unique stage I’ve ever seen in my life, which was salvaged from an old church and features a massive organ. When all lit up, the stage itself is a sight not to be missed!

Galway City

I figure the best way to convince you of the musical treasure that is Galway is to let you experience it for yourself, so here’s a five minute walk-through of some of the pubs I went to while I was there. The first clip is pretty dark, but the quality improves drastically as the video goes on, and you can see the unbelievably dope stage I mentioned at The Quays towards the end.

Take a listen, the songs played might surprise you!

On a final note, I highly recommend staying at the Kinlay Hostel in Eyre Square. The entire hostel is spotless, a pretty large breakfast is included, the lounge area is perfectly conducive to making new friends, and the manager, Frank, is an absurdly nice guy.

Have you ever fallen madly in love with a city while traveling? If so, tell me about it!