The friendliest and most charming city in Europe

Galway is known as the cultural capital of Ireland. Our students love the annual Galway International Arts Festival and the Film Festival, both of which are held in summer. And the Halloween Parade and events are spectacular! In 2018, Galway was named the European Region of Gastronomy, and it’s not hard to see why when you try the fantastic seafood! In 2020, Galway was the European Capital of Culture and on the same year Galway was also named the friendliest and most charming city in Europe.

Galway is a student city, with more than 20% student population during the year. It is a safe and secure city and an ideal destination for students from abroad, both for language programmes and for university study. Galway people have a great sense of community and like other people in Ireland, the family bond is important and strong. As it is a small city, there is a friendly atmosphere in Galway, and it is easy to make connections with different people. With its situation on the Atlantic coast, Galway has attracted visitors from overseas for many centuries and people are open and curious about visitors. Galway’s great tradition of music can be found in the city too, with traditional music playing in many of the city’s pubs.

How to get here?

It’s easy! There are direct buses to Galway city from Dublin Airport and the journey takes up to three hours. IH Galway is located on the main square in Galway, Eyre Square, and we are a few minutes’ walk from the train and bus station. We can come and meet you at the station and take you to your accommodation, if you wish. We meet our junior students at the airport and accompany them to Galway.

Nearest Airports to Galway City

Trains and bus stations in Galway City

The City

Galway is situated on the west coast of Ireland where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean

The city marks the halfway point on the Wild Atlantic Way and Galway is the only city on the entire 2,500 km route. It is bohemian, full of culture, art, exceptional food and music. Galway is always a joy to explore, with its wonderful medieval streets, colourful shop facades, and its café/bar culture.

Galway is a small city, with a population of just under 80,000 inhabitants. The city centre is compact and everywhere is reachable on foot. It is a charming city and famous for its medieval centre, the River Corrib, with its amazing energy and the atmosphere in the pubs, where you can hear live music, mostly free, every day.

The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, where International House Galway is located. Eyre Square is a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops, restaurants and traditional pubs that offer live traditional Irish music. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the city, which retains portions of the medieval city walls.

The Wild Atlantic Way

Weekends are the perfect time to plan a trip to some of Ireland’s must spectacular places. The beautiful Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and Connemara are three of the most popular visits along the Atlantic coast and you can take a bus from just beside IH Galway to all of these destinations.

*Pictures copyright: Professor Chaosheng Zhang

Galway is waiting to welcome you!

Galway people really know how to enjoy themselves and the city is famous for artistic creativity and an infectious lively spirit. Galway is known as the cultural capital of Ireland so whether you’re looking for traditional Irish music, dance, literature, theatre, or some of the finest seafood in Ireland, Galway has it all! Our students call it ‘The real Ireland’ and this is what you will find in Galway!

24 Interesting Facts about Galway

In 1477, Christopher Columbus visited Galway and this was noted in the margin of his copy of Imago Mundi. The people of his birthplace, Genoa in Italy, presented a memorial to the people of Galway in commemoration of this visit.
St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church (Church of Ireland) is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland still regularly used. Christopher Columbus almost certainly worshipped here in 1477.
In 1473, Galway was almost destroyed by fire. However, this provided the impetus for its wealthy citizens to erect lavish houses e.g. Lynch’s Castle, and the city was rebuilt in a planned fashion.
Lynch’s castle (the residence of one of the Mayors of Galway and now a bank) is the oldest building in Ireland in daily commercial use.
The word ‘lynch’ is reputed to have its origins in Galway. The story goes that the son of a former mayor of Galway, James Lynch Fitzstephen killed a Spaniard (in medieval times, Galway had strong trading links with Spain) over a woman. As Chief magistrate, the mayor felt it incumbent on him to impose the law even though the defendant was his own son. When nobody could be found to carry out the sentence, Fitzstephen is supposed to have executed his son himself.
In medieval times, Galway was ruled by 14 merchant families. These ‘tribes’ are where Galway gets the nickname the ‘City of the Tribes’ or ‘Cathair na dTreabh’ and include names such as Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D’Arcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morriss and Skerrett.
After the English Civil War(s), the British parliament at the behest of Oliver Cromwell ordered the execution of the defeated Charles 1. So that he would not be executed by an Englishman, volunteers were looked for in Scotland and Ireland. Two Galway soldiers, Gunning and Dear, offered their services and were sent to England. On 30 January 1649, Gunning was chosen to perform the execution. As a reward, the property where the pub The King’s Head now stands was granted to him.
Bubonic plague was introduced into the city by a Spanish ship in 1649, killing at least 3,700 of its inhabitants and forcing many Galway residents to abandon the city temporarily.
St. Nicolas of Myra has been the patron saint of Galway city since the 14th century. He lived in Greece in the 4th century. This choice of patron is common among sea-ports because he is the patron saint of sailors and merchants. He is also considered to be the patron saint of children and is thought to be the inspiration for the modern-day Santa Claus.
Tigh Neachtain public house, at the junction of Cross and High Street, was the townhouse of Richard Martin (also known as ‘Humanity Dick’) who, as one of Galway’s first Members of Parliament at Westminster, was instrumental in bringing new anti-cruelty laws which led directly to the founding of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).On his actress wife’s insistence, he also established a small theatre in Kirwin’s Lane (adjacent to Busker Browne’s pub) where the insurrectionist Theobald Wolfe Tone trod the boards. Tone was rumoured to have been infatuated with Martin’s wife.
The cannons on display on Eyre Square were captured from the Russians during the Crimean War (1853-56) by the British Army, who subsequently presented them to the town of Galway. During the ‘Fenian fever’ of the 1860s, they were removed in case the Fenians (a militant separatist organisation) used them as weapons against the government.
Galway was one of the counties most affected by the Great Famine (1845-47); approximately 20% of the population died. Relief works carried out during the Famine included the construction of the Dyke Road and Threadneedle Road. This still bears the Irish name, Bothar na Mine, The Meal Road, today.
Queens College Galway (now called National University of Ireland, Galway) opened in 1849 with only 68 students. About 20,000 students now attend.
The (Roman Catholic) Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven is built on the site of the old Galway gaol.
Irish sporting ballad ‘The Fields of Athenry’ is a folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine and tells the story of Michael from Athenry, Co. Galway who is sent to the penal colony, Australia, for stealing food to save his starving family. Written by Pete St. John in the 1970s, it is widely sung at Irish rugby and soccer internationals.
The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, a townland found in County Galway. The Irish version of the name, ‘muiceanach idir dhá sháile’, means “piggery between two briny places” and probably refers to a pig farm once located in the area.
The famous actor, Peter O’Toole, has a strong connection with Galway. He claimed that he was born in Galway before being taken to England as a baby. He built a house outside Clifden in the county in the early 19705, where he spent many holidays and lived there at various times. The star of films like Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter and Venus, he won many awards but holds the record for the most Academy Award (Oscar) nominations without a win. He was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 2003. O’Toole passed away in 2013 and his ashes were scattered in Connemara.
19. There are 35 heritage sites, 31 museums and 10 art galleries in Galway City and County.
Galway has the largest Gaeltacht (Irish speaking community) in Ireland. The other Gaeltacht areas cover extensive parts of counties Donegal, Mayo and Kerry and also parts of counties Cork, Meath and Waterford
689 kilometres of Galway’s coastline is part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Galway is famous for being the festival capital of Ireland, hosting on average 122 festivals and events per year.
22. Although Galway is often cited as being the fastest growing conurbation in Europe, it was relatively slow to develop. During the early medieval period, it was not even considered a town; Athenry was 2.5 times its size. Galway began to prosper in the fifteenth century and it evolved into an important seaport. Wine was one of its major imports and it was the importation and distribution of this commodity which helped to found its commercial prestige.
Connemara marble, which is also known as Connemara Green, is estimated to be 500 million years old. Quarried at the Streamstown Marble Quarries near Clifden, it has been used over the years as a means of exchange as well as in stately buildings.
There are three breeds of horses indigenous to Ireland. These are the Connemara pony, the Irish draft and the Irish hunter. Each one of these breeds is noted for its surefootedness, intelligence and grace under pressure.
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