Ireland 2019: The Main Street of Galway

The main street of Galway starts at the west end of Eyre Square and goes downhill all the way to the water’s edge. Tourists go there to eat, drink, shop and people watch. Local Galwegians go there to eat, drink, shop and watch the tourists. Everyone goes to hear the buskers. There’s only one problem here: there isn’t any main street of Galway. There are five main streets.

This wide area of William Street is a favorite for buskers.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

This street that starts at the west end of Eyre Square and ends at the mouth of the Corrib changes its name every block or two. First it is called Williamsgate Street. Then it becomes William Street. Then Shop Street. Then High Street. And finally, when we are getting close to the water, the street becomes Quay Street.

Young Irish musicians  — they were pretty good!

My two granddaughters and their Nana joining Oscar Wilde and his contemporary Eduard Wilde, an Estonian writer. The two were not related and never met.

The original bronze sculpture of the two Wildes was completed by Estonian artist Tiiu Kirsipuu in 1999 and it sits outside the Wilde Irish Pub in Tartu, Estonia. This replica was a gift from the city of Tartu to the city of Galway in 2004.

Treasure Chest store on William Street.

Looking down William Street.

Colorful but strange!

This busker had a nice voice.

The street got very crowded at times.

The back of St Nicholas Collegiate Church (Church of Ireland) on Churchyard and Shop Streets.

This church was built in 1320 and is the largest medieval church still operating in Ireland. There’s a story that Christopher  Columbus attended Mass here when he visited Galway in 1477, fifteen years before he sailed across the Atlantic to the West Indies. We noticed that there was a Traditional Irish Music concert scheduled for later in the evening and we returned after dinner to attend this concert. I’ll have more about the concert and tour of the church in a future posting.

Busker with torch on High Street.

Coming up to Cross Street where Hight Street splits to the left at the Evergreen Health store and Mainguard starts on the right (to the left of the blue Cladddagh Jewelry building).

We must have just missed the Galway Uke Fest.

There’s a fork on High Street after awhile. High Street continues to the left of Katie O’Connor’s guitar case and Mainguard Street starts on the right.

Looking Down Mainguard Street.

Kilkenny shop on High Street.

High Street.

This young man is dancing in the sean-nos (Old style) tradition. Passersby are mesmerized by his stomping and can’t help but gaze at his feet!

Looking down Cross Street from High Street.

Tigh Neachtain is a popular Irish pub and is ranked #26 of 82 nightlife establishments in Galway. This is where Quay Street begins.

Wooden Heart toy store.

Riordan’s Irish Café is ranked by TripAdvisor as # 146 of 374 restaurants in Galway.

Guitar music outside the Kasbah Wine Bar.

Xi’an is famous for their version of a Chinese hamburger.

Fat Freddy’s warning to parents. Fat Freddy’s is known for its pizza and is ranked #87 by Trip Advisor.

Looking at the menu at Martine’s which is ranked #68 on TripAdvisor’s list.

Looking back up Quay Street from Gemelle’s restaurant which is ranked #70 on TripAdvisor’s list.

We settled on McDonagh’s across the street from Martine’s for lunch. They are famous for their fish ‘n chips. I asked for a sandwich and a beer. They gave me the sandwich and told me to go up two doors to the 1520 Bar to get my pint and bring it back. I did. McDonagh’s is ranked # 83 on TripAdvisor’s list of 447 restaurants in Galway.

The last couple of blocks of Main Street (mostly Quay St) is known as The Latin Quarter.

Cobwebs and Cupan Tae are on Quay Lane just off Quay Street.

We finally made it to the Spanish Arch — one of four arches still remaining from the city wall extension that was built in 1584.

Quay Street ends at Father Griffin Road at the mouth of the River Corrib. We turned left and walked along the river walkway called The Long Walk until we reached the Spanish Arch.  It’s less than two kilometers from Eyre Square to the Spanish Arch and if the streets were empty you could probably walk the entire distance in 5 or 6 minutes. But we zigged and zagged and browsed and ate and drank and dawdled and it took us about three hours.

We then walked back to our hotel via the Riverside Walk that for the most part parallels our Main Street. That will be the subject of my next post which will include more photos of the Spanish Arch and the nearby Galway Museum.

Irish Music BonusGalway Girl performed by Sharon Shannon and Mundy and hundreds of others.

The Galwegian sheer joy of life is exemplified in this video where 15,000 people crowded into William and Shop Streets and a few side streets on June 11, 2016 to participate in the biggest street performance of Galway Girl.  Locals and visitors alike came to listen to Mundy’s voice and Sharon’s button accordion and one of their favorite songs: Galway Girl by a Texan named Steve Earle. Note that Sharon Shannon never stops smiling in the entire video! The crowd spreads out all over Galway’s Main Street but Mundy and Shannon are standing close to the famous sculpture of Oscar Wilde and Eduard Wilde in front of Lazlo Jewellers.

In previous posts we listened to two songs both called Galway Bay. There’s another song called Galway Girl, too. We will listen to the one written and performed by Ed Sheeran in a future post.

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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11 Responses to Ireland 2019: The Main Street of Galway

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    You captured the spirit of Ireland with your photo essay on Galway. Musicians, performers and fun-loving people everywhere. I especially liked the photo of your two granddaughters sitting between Oscar Wilde and his Finnish contemporary, who is completely unknown to me.

    • Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) was a popular Anglo-Irish writer, playwright and novelist known for his witticisms. Eduard Wilde (1865 – 1933) was a popular Estonian writer. According to Wikipedia, “He was one of the most revered figures in Estonian literature and is generally credited as being the country’s first professional writer.”
      Eduard spoke out against the Tsar’s repressive policies and was exiled from his country for a few years in the 1890s. In his later years he served as ambassador to Germany.
      Oscar sued the Marquis of Queensbury for libel but the lawsuit backfired and he was arrested and convicted in 1895 for his homosexual behavior and sent to prison for two years. On his release he immediately went to France and never returned to either England or Ireland. He died three years later in Paris from meningitis that was likely caused by an ear damaged during a fall while in prison.
      The Estonian artist Tiiu Kirsipuu was commissioned in 1999 to sculpt Oscar and Eduard conversing on a bench. This sculpture presently sits just outside the Irish Wilde Pub in Tartu, Estonia.
      In 2004 Estonia joined the European Union along with nine other nations. In those days the EU presidency rotated among its member nations every six months and Ireland had then assumed the presidency. A Day of Welcomes was celebrated in ten Irish cities for the ten new EU countries. Galway was chosen to be the city for Estonia and a replica of the Wilde sculpture was given to Galway from the City of Tartu. Galway was chosen as the recipient of the sculpture because, like Tartu, the city stresses the importance of its culture, especially in regards to music and dance.
      Earlier this year the President of Estonia awarded state decorations to 112 people — both Estonians and world figures — for “making life better in Estonia.” One of the awardees was the sculptress Tiiu Kirsipuu. Tiiu claims that her masterpiece and the replica which was created from her original bronze casting was based on an imaginary conversation Oscar and Eduard may have had if they ever had met.

  2. kzmcb says:

    Beautiful colour and you’ve captured the mood and bustle very well.

  3. disperser says:

    A visually entertaining and diverse stroll through the streets.

    I’m surprised at the number of people playing/dancing and doing things with ladders and fire. I assume they make enough to be worthwhile for them, but still; a lot of competition for spare change.

    • Most of the buskers sang, danced or played their musical instruments. That fire and ladder guy was a unique exception. I think most of the buskers do it because they enjoy it. Some of them give all of their money from busking to charity. The Galway City Council has recently passed a number of laws restricting the busking, much to the chagrin of the Galway Buskers Community and tourists who come to Galway just to see and hear the buskers. See https://www.facebook.com/GalwayBuskersCommunity/.
      Thanks for commenting, Disperser!

  4. Great post- I enjoyed it immensely. Reminded me of my last visit to Galway.

  5. Pingback: Ireland 2019: Galway’s Riverside Walk | Crow Canyon Journal

  6. Pingback: Ireland 2019: The Concert at St Nicholas’ Church in Galway | Crow Canyon Journal

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