January Trip to Galway, Ireland: Why You Should Take One!
Several years ago this month, I surprised my husband with a birthday trip to the one place in all the world he wanted to go: Ireland. You would think that January isn’t a month to go to Ireland, but I would disagree. It was surprisingly a great month to go. No, it wasn’t lush and green, but it was a lot warmer than our Michigan climate, only rained at night and misted on one day, and there were no tourists so we got to see everything with no crowds and got to talk with a lot of locals.
We split our time between Dublin and Galway and we loved them both, but I’ll save Dublin for another day. Galway is on the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. It’s a beautiful, historic harbor town. And when I say historic, I mean it! Their Spanish Arch and parts of the original city wall date back to 1584. We walked this area and Quay (pronounced key) along the bank of the River Corrib and enjoyed the seaside views and colorful architecture. Maybe because there are a lot of overcast days, but the buildings and businesses were so colorful. I didn’t expect the vibrancy and how you smiled while walking down the street because it was just so friendly and cheerful. The people of Galway are as well. We were obviously tourists (even though we wore the requisite black wool coats and boots) and no matter where we went we got into conversations with locals about where we were from, what we had seen, what we shouldn’t miss.
Galway has numerous pubs and the guidebooks mentioned several, but when we asked several locals, they all hung out at only one, Tig Coili’s. The live music didn’t start until 10 pm and even though it was a work night, the place would be packed. We quickly learned why as the traditional music played was fantastic. We went every night, so that the barkeep became familiar with us and started whipping the fresh cream in a copper pot when he saw me at the bar. Irish Coffee is really good here at home, but I’ve been ruined for life by coffee served by a man with an Irish brogue who whips fresh cream for my coffee.
We loved winding our way through the Latin Quarter past stone-clad shops and galleries, pubs and cafes. We bought plenty of gifts to take back home, including wool sweaters and hats. The local artesian scene is strong and we were happy to support them!
Our inn had full Irish breakfasts and we always had to stop mid day for a pint and a coffee. On the weekend, we caught a local rugby match and even though it was January they still wore shorts.
Our memories of Galway are warm ones and our experience there taught us that we need to travel to places in the off-season more often to enjoy the true local life.