Galway, Ireland

Galway is centre of traditional Irish culture, home to the country's largest Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region, on the Connemara Peninsula and the Aran Islands.

17 Apr 20 · 4 mins read

Galway, Ireland

Galway City
The medieval streets of Galway City.

For many travellers Galway is the highlight of their tour of Ireland, a land where traditional Irish culture is tangible, home to beautiful scenery and fascinating history.

On Ireland‘s Wild Atlantic west coast, Galway [Irish: Gaillimh] is Ireland‘s second-biggest county by area, and home to Galway City, the Republic of Ireland‘s third-biggest city. Galway is centre of traditional Irish culture, home to the country‘s largest Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) region, on the Connemara Peninsula and the Aran Islands.

Galway City developed as a major trading centre under Anglo-Norman rule in the Middle Ages. Thanks to its western location, it traded extensively with Spain. Today, much of the medieval city remains intact, a charming warren of narrow streets and ancient pubs. The city has a vibrant and arty vibe, thanks to a large student population and its reputation as a centre for traditional Irish music. Head into one of the city’s traditional pubs (or listen on the streets) and you’re likely to encounter a ‘trad’ session. In summer the city plays host to a number of festivals – devoted to music, film, and even oysters – and was declared a European City of Culture for 2020.

Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park

Outside of the city, Galway offers some of Ireland‘s very best scenery. To the east of the city are the classic landscapes of the Emerald Isle: rolling hills and farmlands, and the heritage town of Athenry. The more spectacular west forms part of Ireland‘s Wild Atlantic Way, particularly Connemara National Park, 2000 hectares of bog, mountains, heath, and woodlands, fringed by the wild Atlantic sea. The park includes the majority of the Twelve Bens mountain range. More remote than the similar Killarney National Park, Connemara National Park offers walks of a variety of different levels.

The Connemara area is also home to Kylemore Abbey, a neo-Gothic 19th century mansion evoking the romantic Irish castles of the Middle Ages, perfectly situated on the shores of Pollacapall Lough. The Abbey was built for a wealthy businessman from Great Britain, Mitchell Henry, who had spent his honeymoon in the area. Garden buffs will particularly enjoy the intricate walled Victorian garden, a short walk from the main house.

Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey

Galway’s coastline forms part of Ireland‘s famous Wild Atlantic Way: a rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline, all sheer cliffs and pristine beaches, overlooking remote Atlantic islands such as Skellig Michael. The Wild Atlantic route spans from Cork in the south, through the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren in County Clare; before passing through Galway and remote Donegal, coming to an end at the Giant’s Causeway, in Northern Ireland.

Odyssey Traveller visits Galway as part of our Tour of Ireland. Designed especially for active mature and senior travellers, our guided tour takes you through the very best scenery of the Emerald Isle, while making time to learn about the history and culture of this fascinating country. While some tour companies jump from place to place, from the Moher Cliffs to Dublin to the UNESCO World Heritage Giant’s Causeway in a day, we spend substantive time in each of our destinations, in order to offer a real local experience.

Our tour of Ireland begins in Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, where we delve into Ireland’s history at Trinity College (home to the Book of Kells), St Patrick’s Cathedral, and Dublin Castle (once the focal point of rule from the United Kingdom and today used by the Irish government and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to host dignitaries and other honoured guests). We also learn about the literary history of Ireland on a walking tour of sites assocated with great Dublin writers, and make time for a tasting at the Guinness Storehouse. Leaving Dublin city, we visit more historical sites in the Irish country – Blarney Castle (and the Blarney Stone), the Rock of Cashel, Bunratty Castle – and make a day trip to Glendalough, a monastic site in the Wicklow Mountains. After winding our way up the Wild Atlantic Way – including a day tour to Killarney (home of the famous jaunting car) and a side trip to the Aran Islands – our escorted tour concludes in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we learn from a local guide about the impacts of the Troubles on local Irish people.

If you’re interested in a trip to the Emerald Isle, why not join an Odyssey guided tour? Our tour of Ireland is all-inclusive, covering accommodation, meals, and entrance fees for attractions. Our coach tour moves in a comfortable, modern bus, led by local guides chosen for their expert knowledge of Irish history and culture. If that interests you, click here for more information, and follow our social media (Facebook) for more travel inspiration!

Articles about Ireland published by Odyssey Traveller:

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Ireland:

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