Our last stop on our Ireland road trip last fall was to the seaside perch of Galway, a city I had visited back in 2003 with my pals Francie and Evan.
As we drove north from the Cliffs of Moher, we ducked in and out of rainy patches, with a few choice rainbows scattered here and there. Gah, Ireland, you are just so cliche with all your rainbows and crap—though I never did find my leprechaun (or my pot of gold).
Ireland’s West coast gem is one of my favorite Irish cities due to its laid-back nature and distinctly Irish vibe. As you wander the cobblestone paths of the small city, you actually feel like you’re in Ireland (unlike Dublin, which could easily be any big international city in any country in the world).
Galway is also the nearest big city to the cliffs, about an hour away via a road flanked by the rocky Burren landscape.
Due to the weather, it took us closer to two hours. Once we arrived to Galway City, we checked into the Sea Breeze Lodge, a gem of a B&B we found via Expedia and booked because it had a three-person room for around $150 a night.
This place was the perfect location; our room overlooked the turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
And the owner, a Frenchman, was adorable and cooked us a delicious Irish breakfast in the morning, then marked up a downtown map for us pointing in the right direction of the
After a tasty dinner at a nondescript place with an effervescent server—and OK, a few behemoth Blue Moons—we wandered across the street and into the town’s iconic pub, O’Connor’s.
We had heard tales about how this place was always packed—the place to be, we were told—and so were surprised to find it pretty empty. And at 9pm at that. Granted it was a weeknight, but every evening is party time in Ireland.
We later found out that was because the local cricket team had lost the big championship match that night, and so all of Galway was indoors sulking (and likely drinking in the comfort of their own homes, despite leaving the pub high and dry for a change).
This worked to our advantage, though, as it means we met Dennis, bartender extraordinaire who my mom then tried to pawn Kari off on—“I was hoping we’d meet a nice Irish boy to marry her off to!” she, our never-shy mother, told he, our blushing, bashful, new friend—and also the co-owners Frank and Tom, whose grandfather started the pub in 1942.
They showed Kari, Guinness connoisseur, how to put a four-leaf clover atop her pint and let her behind the counter to work (on her technique). They made me fall in love with hot Irish whiskey—and introduced us to their fun friends.
They even taught Kari an Irish gig when we confessed we were filming a video and really needed an actual Irishman to teach her a proper jig. (OK, so they actually made Dennis teach her a jig by way of watching a YouTube video on Tom’s iPhone, but details schmetails.)
We left a little after midnight, and after 16 days behind the wheel without nary an error, I made my one-and-only driving faux pas of the trip and tried to pull into the right lane instead of the lane. Whoops. (I swear it wasn’t the whiskey.)
I could have spent more time in Galway, but I was giving Mom and Kari the sampler platter of Ireland instead of the full-on steak dinner, and so a day and a night, and we were out.
But for those heading to Ireland for more than a day or two, I highly suggest just a brief time in Dublin and making your base in Galway instead.
I seriously doubt you could regret these views. Nor could you go to O’Connor’s and not have a rousin’ good time.
Just be sure and tell Dennis his American wife misses him while you’re there.
I ADORE that B&B you stayed in. Wonder if they would let me bring my kids 😉 We are headed to Ireland, Scotland and England this fall. Can’t wait!
I’m sure they would–very nice people!
Those lovely pix brought back some nice memories of Galway city, the cliffs of moher, the burren etc. Sigh.
Fun! We totally missed O’Connor’s, but we had a great time at the Quays and Tig Coili. Galway at night on the weekend has that sort of Beale Street kind of feel, substitute trad music for the blues, of course 🙂
I love it: “the Beale Street of Ireland!”
love it! Looks like such a great time
My family is Irish but I have never been to Ireland, but these photos are definitely tempting me.
I was in Galway years ago and was spellbound (even though it rained the entire 4 days I was there.)
So many lovely photos. And I must agree with you, if you want a more authentic irish experience, Galway is a far better place to be based in than Dublin.
Great article and beautiful photos; I am headed to Ireland in October and this post has made me even more excited….!
These Ireland posts are doing a lot to talk me into TBEX Europe!
I’ve heard only good things about Galway. I really should spend some more time in Ireland eventually, and it will be on my list when I do!
I’m going to ignore the fact that you were in Ireland and drinking Blue Moon.
Yes! Galway! We were there for five days in September, and I totally agree–less Dublin, more Galway! Though next time I go to Ireland, I have so very many places on my list I want to check out…I want a month to make it all happen!
Love those post! Great shots!
Oh, I am so jealous!! Both of your travels with sis, and of your visit to Galway. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland (my red-headed mom is so Irish), and to Galway since a friend of mine moved there a few years ago. So cool!
Loved Galway and the surrounding area, especially the Burren. Lovely photos Kristin.
Ireland, the safest place on earth. Also, a piece of heaven on earth. You really took nice pictures of it. It will be included in my trip list.
Wow! Stunning pictures. I loved Galway – best fish and chips in all of Ireland!
I like your blog and your attitude. I have young children myself and though we don’t travel far, we get out there often. We moved to these places 11mos ago and I’m outdoors every day that time allows exploring and keeping in shape. My kids are in school some of that time but if they aren’t they are right beside me. Make the most of every day! Love it!
Love the place where you stayed and the pictures show that you had a fab time!! Thanks for sharing.
PS – I am hosting a giveaway contest on my blog, do check it out 🙂
That rainbow pic is just amazing!!! You and your sister are just too cute together! FYI for some reason I stopped receiving email updates that you’ve posted…
I actually used to live right near there in Salthill! Glad to see it hasn’t changed much. I never did see O’Connor’s packed any of the times I walked past it… Someone may have been pulling your leg a little. 😉
Awww, Galway! That’s where I studied abroad in college, and I always tell people the same thing you wrote – Dublin is like any other big international city, Galway feels more like the “real” Ireland, and is close to all sorts of pretty outdoor things, like the Aran Islands, Cliffs of Moher, the Burren. I have so many good memories there, I am glad you guys liked it too!
You had a Blue Moon in IRELAND? 😛
(Although I would kill for one right now)
Love the pics lady!
This B & B lodge appeared a lot more cleaner and better furnished than lots of ‘good hotels’ around the world and to top it, it also seem to give a magnificent view of Atlantic. O’Connors is another reason that I will heed your advice and make it a point to visit Galway whenever I visit Ireland.