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Galway Ireland

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Galway Ireland is a rare confluence of elements; the city is arty, romantic, youthful, eccentric and historic. Packed tightly on both sides of the River Corrib, the historic town centre's cobbled streets flow down to the busy harbour. The High Street is usually closed to traffic so is often swarming with a festive crowd. Galway has long been seen as an essentially Celtic place and a large percentage of residents are students, who are progressive, even alternative, in their outlook. Galway's residents have a high regard for a night out, and will often join the throngs of students or tourists in the pubs, restaurants and on the streets for a party. Although a very small town (only about 70'000 residents), Galway is full of hidden gems and is definitely worth a closer inspection. The central public square is busy in all but the harshest weather. It's a welcome green, open space with sculptures and pathways. galway irelandIts lawns are formally named Kennedy Park though you'll never hear locals refer to it as anything but Eyre Square. Plenty of bench seating is available and it's a popular spot for sitting down with the morning paper when the weather permits. An alternative for wet or windy days is Charlie Byrne's Bookstore. A civic treasure with a brilliant collection of new, secondhand and discounted books (many 1 Euro) in a succession of rambling rooms, the staff here are sure to be able to ferret out whatever obscure title you've been looking for. galway irelandDruid Theatre is renowned, long-established and award-winning. It has become famed for staging experimental works by young Irish playwrights, as well as new adaptations of classics. Its Galway home is in an old tea warehouse. Framing the river east of Wolfe Tone Bridge, the Spanish Arch is thought to be an extension of Galway's medieval walls. The arch appears to have been designed as a passageway through which ships entered the city to unload goods, such as wine and brandy from Spain. galway irelandToday it reverberates to the beat of bongo drums, or other instruments played by the many talented street artists who are busking in the area. The lawns and riverside form a gathering place for locals and visitors on any sunny day. Many watch kayakers manoeuvre over the minor rapids of the River Corrib. If you are in Galway at the end of September, you must eat your fill at the Oyster Festival, which of course celebrates the seafood with live music. The rest of the year, Sheridans Cheesemongers is recommended for the superb local and international cheeses and other deli items within. Particularly popular is the Cratloe Hills Gold, Irish ham and wild salmon. Its real secret, however, is up a narrow flight of stairs. Sample from a huge wine list in an airy room while enjoying many of the best items from below. As the sun sets, head over to the beach at Salthill, where you can sit in the stillness and appreciate the wild beauty of Galway Bay as it is brushed with the last golden rays of the day.

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