Europe Galway Galway County Ireland

Galway: Great for Pubbing

On our drive south down the western coast of Ireland, we stopped off for two nights in Galway. I’d been here once before, for one night, after running the Dublin Marathon decades ago. I remembered almost nothing about it. I remembered we stayed on a square or a park with trees on it (which must have been Eyre Square). I think it was cold and may have been rainy. It was early November or maybe Halloween. Galway is better than I remember.

The Latin Quarter is bustling with shops and pubs, more pubs than shops. The main streets are dotted with live music street performances and many of the pubs have live music in the evening. You can’t make it here if you can’t play, you’ve gotta be good. On our first night, we made a few stops around the Quarter. The first for some Irish music, the second to procure some food and the final to finish off our evening.

We’ve been amazed at the difficulty of just walking into a pub to get food. It wasn’t just the one persnickety chef in Donegal town shutting down operations at 7pm with half of the tables empty, this was a challenge elsewhere as well. You can’t just drop in, ask for a table, plop down and order. We were lucky enough to secure one at stop #2 as we watched people being turned away just after we were seated. We’ve also been amazed at how early everyone eats. On our second night, we went for take out at Moran’s Oyster Cottage about 15k south of Galway center and half the tables were having dessert at 5:30pm. More on Moran’s later….

On our full day in Galway we returned to the scene of the crime, the Latin Quarter, to wander around, listen to music and check out the scene. The Crane Bar had been recommended by some reliable Irish Southern Californians as the real deal (it’s also in the 10,000 Places to See Before You Die book), so we crossed the river to West Galway in search of the aforementioned. It sits on a corner, prominently awaiting your arrival. At 3pm it was nearly empty but if you want to hear the nightly music upstairs best to arrive well before the 9:30pm start time.

We stayed on an off the grid, former Dutch sailing clipper, which assisted in the Dunkirk evacuation in World War II, now houseboat in the marsh at the end of Galway bay just south of town. Woodstove for heat, non potable water, only a few music and local channels on TV, powered by wind and solar, with an intermittently blazing hot and then freezing cold shower, spotty internet. Off the grid. It was one of the most memorable, unique and one of the best Airbnbs we’ve ever stayed in. Perhaps not perfectly located for the late night pub goers but perfectly located for us.

Because we wanted to enjoy our Airbnb we opted for take out for dinner on night two. I’d read about Moran’s in our Lonely Planet guide book as a “Don’t Miss”. It was 12 kilometers from our accommodations set in a salt marsh down a narrow winding road but just follow the big blue signs, you can’t miss it. We were “sorted out” by Finn the bartender with some grilled oysters, shrimp cocktail and beverages while we awaited our take away fish and chips. Don’t miss is right.

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