Galway, the largest county in the province of Connacht, lies in the centre of the western seaboard of Ireland. It covers nearly 6,000 sq. kms, (with over 2000km of highly indented coastline) and is divided by Lough Corrib, Ireland’s second largest lake. It has two distinct landscapes – the vast mountainy land of Connemara to the west of Lough Corrib and the rich farming plains of Galway East. The population of the County (all the areas outside of Galway City) is estimated at just over 143,000. The County is predominantly rural with just over 15% living in towns of more than 1,500 people.
Galway City is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, often referred to as the bi-lingual capital of Ireland, Galway city is the perfect mix of old and new. A bustling shopping centre with wonderful little boutique cafes along the pedestrianised streets and plenty of craic at night with a host of live music venues to choose from.
For a taste of the real Ireland Connemara is a must. Gaeilge is the predominant language of choice here and the people are warm and friendly with a typical Cead Mile Failte Irish welcome. The beautiful rugged landscape is as yet unspoilt by progress.
Take in the majestic splendour of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the north as you make your way further south to the well knows seaside resort of Salthill. Something for everyone here from the landmark Leisureland complex with its indoor and outdoor childrens activities to the quieter restaurants and bars further back from the sandy seafront and promenade.
Galway County Council recently lead a project to create a Galway East Ecclesiastical Trail. The Trail features over 40 sites of interest to ëculture and heritage seekers. This area also features Portumna Castle on the banks of the Shannon and Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee associated with literary legends W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory founder of Ireland’s National Theatre.
There are four main inhabited Islands off the coast of Galway including the world renowned Irish speaking Aran Islands and Inisboffin. In total there are 18 inhabited islands in County Galway. It is worth a visit across to the islands to enjoy such activities as walking, cycling, swimming, horse-riding, diving, basket-making and learning a little of the Irish language and culture. Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands, is home to the world famous Dun Aonghasa monument and the islands heritage centre is wonderfully informative of the lives of previous inhabitants. An overnight stay is highly recommended in order to sample the traditional night life.
The Summer Festival Race Meeting at Galway Racecourse is renowned worldwide and enjoyed by a truly international crowd. Veteran race goers, and indeed those who simply love the atmosphere, travel from around the world for this unique experience. If you get a chance to go, we would definitely recommend checking it out as you will have a great time.
The Festival runs for seven consecutive days starting, starting each year on the last Monday in July. There are special race days for everyone to enjoy, including, Ladies Day, The Big Bash and Mad Hatter’s Day which add fun and excitement to the event. A record 220,000 people attended the Summer Festival Meeting in 2006 and since then it has gone from strength to strength.
In addition to good road access, Galway is increasingly well serviced by over 100 direct flights a week to Galway Airport, Shannon and Ireland West Airport (Knock) as well as daily train services from Dublin through Galway East to Galway City provided by IarnrÛd Eireann. Bus Eireann services the area with regular coaches to and from the rest of the country.