Galway is renowned throughout Ireland as the city which has managed to combine all the desirable qualities of a larger city with those of a smaller country town. Nowhere is this more visible than in its nightlife. From dark and smoky little drinking holes which haven’t changed for decades to the numerous ultra modern clubs scattered throughout the city, everyone will find somewhere to unwind using their favoured method, be it sipping a frothy pint or gyrating senselessly on dance floor packed to capacity.
Traditional music also plays an important role with regard to entertainment in the city and can be heard in numerous establishments throughout – just follow your ear. Some of the more popular venues include The Galway Shawl, Tigh Neachtain, Monroe’s Tavern, the Roisin Dubh and Pucan.
If you do happen to frequent the latter you may well be forgiven for thinking that you have been transported to a foreign country or have consumed one Guinness too many. Fear not, this is the city’s main Irish language pub and the sounds you are listening too are none other than the Gaelic language that is spoken in numerous parts of rural Galway.
But as well as the city’s vibrant pub and club scene, Galway is also home to some of Ireland’s premier festivals as well as a variety of smaller celebrations which take place throughout the year.
The most popular of all such events are undoubtedly the Galway Arts Festival which takes place over the last two weeks in July and Galway Race Week which is on during the first week in August. Both take over the entire city and you really should book accommodation well in advance if you wish to attend either event. Otherwise, you better hope the weather holds up in order to make sleeping on one of the city’s benches more enjoyable. Of course, that’s assuming you can even find a free bench.
Another popular festival phenomenon in both Galway city and county are the numerous oyster festivals, the biggest of which is the Clarinbridge Oyster Festival. Taking place during the first week of September in a village located about twenty-five miles outside the city centre, it’s an event which has increased dramatically in size over the past couple of years. And, for those of you in the know about this particular shellfish, apparently Clarinbridge is home to some of the best in the world. Why not judge for yourself but don’t be too greedy, you know what they say about oysters and the Galway bachelors might just not be ready for a bunch of horny backpackers.
3 Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland
A relatively new establishment by Galway standards, ‘Fibbers’ proves extremely popular among the youth of the city. Just might have something to do with the numerous promotions and happy hour – who knows?
11 Forster Street, Galway, Ireland
With traditional Irish music every night and a large number of the clientele speaking Gaelic, this is where to go to truly immerse yourself in the native culture. Also one of the more relaxing pubs on this list.
Eyre Square Hotel, Forster Street, Galway, Ireland
Located just off Eyre Square the Red Square is especially popular from Thursday to Saturday where you will be subjected to the sounds of a local pop or rock band. Also does an excellent and reasonably priced carvery lunch.
Eyre Squre, Galway, Ireland
Known as ‘the Skeff’ to regulars, this is a good place to go for a final drink before leaving the city thanks to its close proximity to the bus and rail station. Of course it’s equally good as an establishment to have your first Galway pint.
Eglington Street, Galway, Ireland
With live music seven nights a week you will probably make at least one visit to the Cellar to check out the best of the local musical talent.
Woodquay, Galway, Ireland
The perfect location to check out those small town charms for which Galway pubs are famous and a good place to get away from it all, if that’s what you’re into.
3 Eyre Street, Woodquay, Galway, Ireland
Wooden snugs and open fires add immensely to the appeal of this bar and restaurant in the heart of the city centre. With music almost every night this is an excellent choice.
Abbeygate Street, Galway, Ireland
One of Galway’s ultimate hard rock pubs, Sally Longs has that essential dark, gothic interior which attracts the youth of the city in droves. Also has live music from Thursday to Saturday.
19 Shop Street, Galway, Ireland
This is one of the great GAA pubs in the city (Gaelic Athletic Association – The native sports of hurling and Gaelic football are extremely popular in Galway) and regularly attracts members from both Galway teams. And, as well as the sporting element there is live traditional music twice daily at 5.00pm and 9.00pm.
Kirwans Lane/ Cross Street, Galway, Ireland
The most popular pub in the city at the moment, Buskers has been a landmark in the Galway since 1615. It has served as a meeting place for the Tribes, a Barracks and a convent all of which have been restored to make an extremely impressive drinking establishment and one which you would be well advised to check out during your stay.
15 High Street, Galway, Ireland
If a Sunday morning jazz session is what it takes to get you over your hangover then look no further. The King’s Head is one of the city’s oldest watering holes and as well as jazz sessions it also has live music nightly and lunchtime theatre of all things making it a fascinating pub in which to spend a couple of hours.
Quay Street, Galway, Ireland
The building itself was built in the 19th century and now has a church like interior which even includes the customary pews. With six split-level bars, live music of the traditional Irish, pop or jazz variety taking place on a stage which is a pulpit complete with a pipe church organ and a bright and young clientele, this is another one of the city’s favourites.
17 Cross Street, Galway, Ireland
The oldest pub in Galway, Tigh Neachatin has been attracting musicians for the past century and continues to do so with fervour. Very different from the bigger pubs in the city but representative of the true character for which Galway is renowned the world over.
Dominick Street, Galway, Ireland
Not only is this one of Galway’s most important live music venues, it is also one of the most important in Ireland. Attracting a host of international, national and local musicians get your ticket in advance or you’re going to be left outside.
36 Upper Abbeygate Street, Galway, Ireland
Probably the favoured club in the city at the moment, CP’s as it’s known to the locals, plays everything from the sixties to the present day but get there early. There’s only one dance floor so the club fills really quickly. Keep your eye out for concessions for the club in pubs about the city which will reduce the entrance fee considerably.
11 Prospect Hill, Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland
A bar, restaurant, club and live music venue on three floors in the heart of the city centre makes Cuba a very popular choice. It’s open every night and because of its popularity among students, prices are quite pauper friendly for a city centre club.
Eglington Street, Galway, Ireland
One of the city’s best established dance clubs, the GPO has even released its own dance chart CD called ‘Essence’. Might be a bit out of date now but the music in the GPO certainly isn’t. Playing house, garage, indie and lots of other stuff, this is definitely for the avid clubbers among you.
Ball Alley Lane, Galway, Ireland
Located just off Eyre Square behind ‘the Skeff’, the Alley is two floors of young people packed together getting rid of all surplus energy. One of the trendier locations in the city, so leave the trainers at home.
Salthill, Galway, Ireland
Located in Salthill, the design of this club is based on the concept of the old ballroom and even has the big disco ball. Also features live music and if you don’t get in as happens, head to Liquid which is just down the road and almost as enjoyable.