Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. — Martin Luther
If I am to be honest the whole reason that I put Galway on my list of places to visit on our Ireland trip it is all because of music. There was a song titled Tair Abhaile Ria (click on the name to listen to the song) from Celtic Women that really captured my fascination and intrigued me to one day visit Galway. As it turns out Galway is quite the musical city. As you walk down the cozy stone laid streets you come across various musicians playing a variety of music; some of them quite polished hoping to sell some of their self-made CD’s while others hope for coins to be tossed into their instrument cases. One musician in particular caught my attention. His name is Paul and he has a mellow voice and was singing a variety of Irish & pop tunes but what caught my attention was his two sweet little dogs that laid down in front of him. I got to pet them for a few moments and get my “puppy fix” since I haven’t been able to cuddle my own pups for so long.
A busy Galway street & a view of the River Corrib from our hotel room.
In many ways Galway is a lot like Dublin but much more intimate, a small town with a big city vibe. I liked it very much, more than Dublin. The one thing that I thought was so interesting was how many jewelry shops there were in such a small city space! There were at least two or three jewelry stores on each block. I had hoped to buy a special ring during my trip and I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like. Something delicate with a Celtic design and either Peridot (my birthstone) or an emerald stone. As I window shopped the various jewelers I just didn’t find “it”, then we spied a shop titled “McCarthy’s”; which just happens to be the maiden name of Michael’s mom. We went inside and there “it” was! Perfect timing too as it was my birthday & Michael jokingly asked if we got the family discount and we did!
On our first evening in Galway we went to a traditional Irish music concert series called Tunes in the Church which was held in St. Nicolas Collegiate Church. This church was originally built in the year 1320! In the 17th century Oliver Cromwell’s army seized the city of Galway and used the church as a stable for their horses and livestock. They also desecrated the art in the church, all of the faces of angels that adorned the columns have been broken off. Fortunately other items had been spared. The beautiful stained glass windows are incredible. Currently the church has three different faiths utilizing it for their worship services. For our concert series we had a harpist, who also sang an old Irish song a capella; a tin whistle & Uilleann pipe player & a woman, Emma O’Sullivan, who did Sean-nos dance, a very old traditional Irish dance from the 17th & 18th centuries. The acoustics in the church were truly incredible, the soloist was singing in the traditional Irish Gaelic language so I couldn’t understand the words but her voice sounded so beautiful. I can only imagine how incredible a capella hymns would sound in this church. I really enjoyed this music, it was great to hear traditional Irish music in such an intimate setting without having to deal with a pub atmosphere. During the performances we even had opportunity to ask questions and speak with the artists afterwards.
Galway was a great city vibrant city and I would recommend adding it to the itinerary for anyone visiting Ireland.