Galway’s glorious 475 pubs! Exploring the Irish city that’s packed with history and toe-tapping taverns filled with loud and fast folk music

  • Hannah Summers has a conversation with a Galway resident in a Galway bar and finds that everyone is welcome in this city. 
  • She drops in for a drink at The Crane, where a group of 12 musicians entertain punters with live folk music 
  • Other attractions in the city include Lynch’s Castle, the City Museum and the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas


Liam, eighty years old, is seeking love. He points at the Claddagh gold ring that he has on his right finger. It features two fingers wrapped around a crown-shaped heart.

‘If the point of the heart is pointing to my body, it means I’m taken,’ he tells me with a grin. ‘If it faces out, I’m single.’

Liam might be an attractive catch but it will take you to Europe’s edge to locate him. Galway in West Ireland is where Liam can be found.

Quay Street in Galway. 'Galway’s finest lure? The pubs. They are everywhere and a big source of local pride,' Hannah writes

Quay Street, Galway. ‘Galway’s finest lure? Pubs. Hannah writes that they are ubiquitous and an important source of pride in the locality.

Pictured is Galway's Eyre Square, which is 'lined with towering 19th-century buildings'

Galway’s Eyre Square is shown here, and is “lined by towering 19th century buildings.”

Liam meets me in The Skeff. It is one of only 475 pubs in Galway that claim to have traded in Galway. It’s on the edge of Eyre Square, lined with towering 19th-century buildings.

The city is dotted with colourful streets that run from here. I am amazed at the intricately carved gargoyles found in the medieval Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, which dates back to 700 years. 

Nearby in the Latin Quarter is Lynch’s Castle, once the grandest 16th-century townhouse. Today it’s a bank.

Galway is packed with history, from the City Museum, which tells the area’s tale, to the old Quays with their Spanish Arch, built in 1584 to protect the harbour.

Hannah spots ‘intricately-carved gargoyles at the medieval Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, which dates back to 700 years (pictured).

Kirwan's Lane in Galway. ‘That’s the thing about Galway. It’s a feeling, not a place,' a local tells Hannah

Kirwan’s Lane, Galway. ‘That’s the thing about Galway. It’s a feeling, not a place,’ a local tells Hannah

Head to the city's old Quays to pass through the Spanish Arch (pictured), which was built in 1584 to protect the harbour

You can visit the old Quays of the city to see the Spanish Arch, which was constructed in 1584 as a protection for the harbor.

But Galway’s finest lure? They are the pubs. These pubs are a source of pride and can be found all over the area. 

Tigh Neachtain is one of these traditional, tiny places that have been providing punters with food since 1894. 

It’s all wooden booths, tables, black-and-white photos and all-important vintage whiskeys. Back on the West Side is where I find my favourite — The Crane. 

A customer outside the Tigh Neachtain, 'which has been serving punters since 1894', according to Hannah

Hannah describes a customer at the Tigh Neachtain that ‘has been serving punters ever since 1894’. 

Tigh Neachtain, pictured, is all 'wooden booths, tables, black-and-white photos and all-important vintage whiskeys'. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

Hannah's favourite pub, The Crane (pictured), is set on the West Side of the city. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

Tigh Nachtain (pictured to the right) is filled with ‘wooden benches, tables, black and white photos, and all-important vintage whiskies’. Hannah is fondly familiar with The Crane on the West Side. Creative Commons. 

Galway is home to many musicians. During her visit to the city, Hannah listens to a group of 12 musicians play folk music in The Crane, and says: ‘It’s utterly hypnotic’

While a few older gentlemen downstairs sip pints of beer, upstairs twelve musicians are gathered around low tables. Each has an instrument, some of which I don’t even recognise.

The crowd soon fills with loud and fast Irish folk music. It’s utterly hypnotic.

‘That’s the thing about Galway,’ Liam had told me. ‘It’s a feeling, not a place. Everyone feels instantly welcome.’  

Travel Facts 

B&B rooms at the Harbour Hotel cost from £90 ( Aer Lingus Heathrow to Shannon returns cost from £111.98 ( For more information, visit