Straddling the border between counties Clare and Galway in the province of Connacht, Galway Bay is a 50 km X 30 km (30 mi X 18 mi) inlet brimming with oyster and mussel beds and surrounded by layer upon layer of spectacular scenery. Like Kinvara, a colorful seaport village with, purportedly, the most photographed castle on the Emerald Isle, Dunguaire.
Normally an obligatory photo-op stop for tour operators, our motor coach, with the intrepid “band of merry media” aboard — 18 travel writers and photographers invited by Insight Vacations to sample a portion of its Treasures of Ireland itinerary — just zips by the iconic 16th century tower-house and past small fishing boats and colorful cottages, as Eugene, aka The Quiet Man, puts pedal-to-the-metal around the bay and guns it to our next port of call: Galway City.
Steeped in history — her roots go back to the early 12th century — Galway is a prosperous bohemian, artsy cosmopolitan city.
Widely considered the Emerald Isle’s cultural heart, Galway, in a word, is COOL.
For openers, the sixth most populous city in Ireland is considered one of the “sexiest cities in the world,” one of the “great cities of the world,” one of the “best travel destinations in the world,” and, the foam atop a pint of Guinness, the “friendliest city in the world.” The latter according to readers of Travel + Leisure.
Admired for her vibrant lifestyle, colorful storefronts and pubs, exceptional dining and overall festive nature, Galway plays host to a burgeoning calendar of organized events that attracts visitors from around the globe.
Designated a UNESCO City of Film, she hosts the annual Galway Film Fleadh, the International Arts Festival and the Tulca Festival of Visual Arts.
There’s also the International Mussel and Oyster festivals, and the Gathering of the Boats festival, featuring 100+ uniquely Irish craft, the Galway Hookers.
Why, there’s even the Dip in the Nip, the first-ever skinny dip for charity.
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the city considered by her peers to be the “most Irish” of all.
One of the most scenic and lyrical spots in all of Ireland, Galway Bay was immortalized in the eponymous song penned by Dr. Arthur Colahan and turned into an international hit by Bing Crosby.
Pure melancholy for Irish immigrants who longed to return to their homeland after settling in America, Galway Bay seems like the perfect tune to quietly bring the curtain down on our short stay in Galway City along the Wild Atlantic Way:
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Pardon the cliché, but as the sun slowly sinks in the west our man Eugene is at it again, making fast tracks to today’s final destination: Ashford Castle. If we don’t shake a leg, a piper in full regalia, waiting patiently at the front gate, just might let the air out of his bagpipes.
©The Palladian Traveler