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Galway hotels

Galway lies in the west of Ireland in the province of Connaught. The name can refer either to Galway City or the whole county. County Galway is the second largest county in Ireland after Cork, so visitors to the area have plenty of terrain to cover offering many different experiences. In the east of the county are the flat and gentle grasslands which contain many diverse historical buildings including monasteries, castles and cathedrals. This contrasts with the dramatic and rugged scenery of the west of County Galway which contains the beautiful area of Connemara with its many mountains, bogs, lakes and coastal areas. These two very distinct areas of County Galway are divided by Lough Corrib. Two main highways run north from Galway city along either side of the lake. The N84 runs along the eastern side of the lake toward Castlebar in County Mayo, whilst the N59 first goes west out of Galway toward Clifden before going north again to Westport also in Mayo.

The population of County Galway is just over 250,000 and at its heart, on a narrow piece of land dividing the eastern and western halves of the county at the southern end of Lough Corrib, lies Galway City. With a population of just over 75,000 Galway is the fifth largest city on the island of Ireland and the third largest in the Irish Republic. The city takes its name from the Irish for the river Corrib, or Gaillimh, which used to form the western boundary of the original settlement.

Renowned for its festivals, bars and music Galway is a vibrant, fun-loving city and is the cultural capital of the West of Ireland. The city is on the doorstep of the Galway Gaeltacht area, where the ancient Irish language still survives to this day. It is estimated that around 10 percent of the population in Galway city can speak Irish and it is associated, maybe more than any other Irish city, with the Irish language, music, dance, song and other traditions. Ireland’s only Irish language theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, is located in Galway and the national Irish-language TV station, TG4, can be found in Baile na hAbhann. Galway is probably the only city in Ireland where visitors have a chance of hearing the Irish language spoken.

History and leisure truly combine in this hedonistic location and can probably best be sampled in any of its atmospheric pubs which, with their large, open fire-places and gothic features, reflect the true nature of this medieval city. The National University of Ireland at Galway and the Institute of Technology attract young people from all over Ireland and their presence certainly adds to the bohemian atmosphere of the city. In the summer months this is reinforced by the many foreign language students who come to Galway to improve their English and the influx of visitors attracted to Galway for its many summer festivals. Galway is truly a coastal city and the docks are very close to the city centre and the constant sea breezes and hovering of seagulls give Galway a truly maritime feel and remind visitors of its medieval links to continental Europe. Whilst walking around or into Galway city centre most visitors will feel compelled to follow the crowds and sound of music and end up in the main drag made up of the pedestrianized streets of William, Shop, High and Quay streets. In summer this area often resembles a boisterous Continental-style promenade lined with restaurant and pub tables, buskers and people just strolling along enjoying the atmosphere.

Hotels in Galway City

Nearly all visitors to Galway, either by design or accident, will end up at some point during their stay in Eyre Square. The square come park is in the very centre of Galway and in the past served as the market square located just outside the original, old city walls. Many hotels in Galway city are located in the vicinity of the square. This central space was presented to the city in 1710 by the then Mayor, Edward Eyre from whom it takes its name. The square was officially renamed the Kennedy Memorial Park in 1965 in honour of US President J.F. Kennedy who visited just before his death in 1963 and addressed the people of Galway from a spot on the square that today contains a bust of the Irish-American President. At the top of Eyre Square are two large canons that have been in the square longer than any other memorial. They are located just beside the Brown Doorway and were presented to the Connaught Rangers at the end of the Crimean War in 1856. Eyre Square also contains a statue of Padraic  O’ Conaire, an author and story-teller born in Galway in 1882, who produced the majority of his work in the Irish language. Visitors are often attracted to the statue of the writer to have their photograph taken. Today the house on the docks where O’ Conaire was born in Galway is a pub that still bears his name. The square has been recently been renovated incorporating new pedestrianized areas and greenery but retaining an iconic fountain which was installed in Eyre Square in 1984 to mark Galway’s quincentenary. The centrepiece of the fountain is a copper coloured sculpture which evokes the sails of a Galway hooker, the traditional fishing boat of the area which is unique to Galway. On the southwest of the space is the Eyre Square Shopping Centre which promotes itself as the city’s liveliest and attractive meeting place which contains over 60 local and national shops and several cafĂ©s and eateries.