Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On to Galway


Couldn't leave Ireland and not see one castle. It just so happens that Dunguaire Castle is right down the road from where we stayed last night. We were out by 10 and were one of the first visitors. It is a fine castle and has a nice shop. We were fortunate because today was the last day it was open. They are closing tomorrow.
Dunguaire Castle has the most picturesque location at the shores of Galway Bay near Kinvara in County Galway. The castle comprises of a 75 foot tower and defensive wall against a stunning backdrop making this castle – the most photographed castle in Ireland!

Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the Hynes Clan who were a prominent family in the area since 662. In the 17th century the castle was passed onto the Martyn clan of Galway who remained in the stonghold until 1924. It was Oliver St. John Gogarty, a well known surgeon and writer who bought and restored the castle and made it a meeting place for literary greats like George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, J.M Synge and W.B. Yeats.
The sun made its way out as we got to the top of the tower. And has managed to stay out all day. We arrived at our b&b in Glaway a little after noon. Anne, our landlady, got us settled in a larger room than we booked (no xtra charge - she was feeling good today). Good thing because we have to repack to go home -- but no going to think about that now.

With yet another new map in hand, we set out to explore Galway. Our lodging is just the other side of the Wolftone Bridge which goes directly into the city center. Very nice walk. Guess what? Lots of shops.  We did find a yarn shop - the only one we have seen since we have been in Ireland - you would think with all this wool there would be yarn shops all over the place -not so much. Picked up a skein for Amy and that was all the shopping we intended to do. What will we do for another day?

We wound our way around the streets and found tourist information. A very helpful young woman helped us plan our day tomorrow. There are a couple of options all based on weather. We are hoping to take the ferry over to Inishmor Island, part of the Aran Islands, and rent bikes.

With that settled, we had a bite to eat and did more walking around town. Tried to follow the tourist map with the numbers but it seems that they have turned everything into a shop or bank if they could. Case in point, Lynch Castle.
At the junction of Shop Street and Upper Abbeygate Street is Lynch's Castle, a 16th century castle which was heavily altered in 1966 when it was converted into a bank. The exterior preserves some of the few remaining Irish gargoyles as well as the arms of Henry V11, the Lynch family and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare. The stonework of the windows is of good quality. In the ground floor, historical material dealing with the castle is displayed. 
We also came across Browne's Doorway.
A doorway and first-floor window of one of the many fine 16th and 17th century houses which adorned the city has been re-erected in isolation on the north side of Eyre Square. It belonged to a house of the Browne family which formerly stood in Lower Abbeygate Street. 
And a bust of JFK
A bust of US President John F. Kennedy stands in the Eyre Square park. The park is also named after him, and it was erected on the spot from where he addressed the people of Galway on a visit in 1963. JFK received a phenomenal welcome in the city and was made a Freeman on the same visit. Galwegians consider this visit to be one of the most important events in the history of the city, because of the very strong connections with the United States and the fact that Kennedy was proud to proclaim his Irish ancestry. Following his visit, Galway Corporation updated and modernised the park and renamed it John F Kennedy Park, although it is widely known as Eyre Square. 
Making our way back, we came upon the Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch, which is located on the banks of the river Corrib, was built in 1584. It was originally an extension of the famous city walls, designed to protect the quays. The Spanish Arch is, in fact, a misnomer, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the Arch. In the past it was known as The Blind Arch and it is located on the site more appropriately known as Ceann na Bhalla (The Head of the Wall).  

Took a lovely leisurely stroll around the promenade and headed towards our neighborhood. Got back to the room and rested up before dinner. Headed back out around 6:30. Took a lovely stroll down the river walk. Then it was time for oysters. Popped into Cookes and tried a dozen of their rock oysters - these are pacific oysters that have been transplanted in Galway.   Ian, our fabulous waiter, took us on a tour of this 15th century building - not everyone gets the tour. Wonderful building with a great medieval fireplace. From there it was onto Martines for their native oysters. We met a lovely young woman from Springfield whose father came from New Bedford! Had lots to talk with her about.

Headed up the road a bit and popped into the Spanish Arch  Hotel. A terrific Irish group was performing. We listened for a bit and then went off to find some real food dinner. Found  simple place for fish and chips.  On our way back, we popped back into the Spanish Arch Hotel to listen to the last couple of tunes from the group Grian. Great crowd and lots of fun.

Walked back over the bridge. Decided to go to a local music joint, Crane's Bar. This was a total jam session. It started out with three people and by the time we left there were eight people playing. We sat with a couple from Liverpool. Had a good time with them. This place is in our neighborhood and it is very local. A great find! What a great way to end the evening.

Setting the alarm tonight. It is way past our bedtime and we have to catch a ferry tomorrow.


Next time... Biking on Inishmor


  1. Glad to see you guys get some partying in. Riverdance anyone?

    1. Don't I recall hearing about some Irish gig lessons in your youth Susan?

    2. Jig of course, not gig! Darn auto corrections