We’re slowly working our way through our ‘bucket list’ of things to do and places to visit in Ireland. And last weekend we finally made it to Galway. We’d always heard lovely things about Galway, and it was one of the places we really wanted to see before we left. Fortunately for us, some friends were keen to join us for a weekend away, so after lunch on Friday we (myself and 3 boys who are all (rather confusingly) called John) piled into the car for the long journey.
It takes about 4½ hours to drive from Belfast to Galway. In order to avoid getting snarled up in Dublin’s rush hour traffic we took the motorway as far as Dundalk where we struck off cross country. Once off the motorway the roads were narrow windy, but wonderfully scenic. It was raining on and off, and West Ireland is particularly gorgeous in the rain – all green rolling hills and remote farms that suit wild weather. We arrived in Galway for 6pm and retired to our respective accommodation to unpack and change before meeting for dinner. John and I were staying in a hotel, while the 2 other Johns had opted for a hostel down the street. We reconvened in a nearby pub for the first pint of Guinness of the evening.
Halfway through the pint we started discussing our dinner options. It suddenly dawned on us that it was after 8pm and we were in rural Ireland, so few places would still be serving food (I will not miss that!). The best we managed to find was a takeaway pizza place so we grabbed a few big slices. While it did the job, it wasn’t the relaxed pub meal we were all looking forward to after the long drive.
The plan for the evening was simple – have a few pints but only one pint in each pub we went to. Basically we were planning a mini pub crawl. Galway has hundreds of pubs all extremely close together, so this was easily sorted. And despite it being Friday night and incredibly busy the fact that there were so many pubs meant that we managed to find a seat almost everywhere we went so it was perfect for nursing a pint. While we mostly drank Guinness, we did try the local ‘Galway Hooker’, named after a traditional fishing boat used in Galway Bay. We called it a night reasonably early as we were keen to do some sightseeing the next day.
We woke up on Saturday to clear skies and sunshine and the morning was spent strolling through the cobbled streets of Galway, walking along the seafront, and visiting the local markets. Galway itself is quite small and it didn’t take us long to feel that we’d seen the bulk of it so, just before lunchtime, we hopped back in the car for a bit of a tour of the countryside. We had no destination, just the idea that we would head out and get constructively lost. We stopped for lunch in a small town, came across some local ruins, enjoyed bleak views of The Burren, and attempted (and failed) to find the house used in the TV show Father Ted.
We headed back to Galway early as it was our mission to find a nice pub for our evening meal. After a nap and shower, we reconvened and headed out, joined by a Canadian tourist that the Johns had met in their hostel. We found a nice pub for dinner and enjoyed an excellent meal (steamed hake on mashed potatoes served with an almond and garlic butter sauce for me – delicious!). We then went back to the hotel for a few drinks before going out for a night on the town. No pubs this time, it was all dancing and nightclubs, and we had a blast.
Sunday was a slow start, and we left for Belfast around lunchtime, getting us home by 5 to rest and recuperate after the weekend. Galway was a great place, and we’re so glad to have gone. Even better to have been joined by friends!