- Lifestyle & Sports
- 25 Sep 14
Elaine Mai moved to Galway for college and instantly fell i ngrá with the place. “It’s the sense of community in Galway that makes me love it," she says. "It feels like a big town rather than a city. I ended up staying for nine years, simply because it felt like home to me. I walked down Shop Street one day and I met 13 people that I knew, which is crazy when you think about how big the city is. There are just so many great places, where people go to hang out and meet, even if they hadn’t planned to!” Currently thriving in her music career, including vocal performances with the likes of Le Galaxie, here Elaine Mai offers her personal guide to the City of the Tribes...
2-3 Kirwin’s Lane
Tel: (091) 567 010
A café and bakery that does amazing pastries and really, really delicious desserts. A nice spot to pop into for a cup of coffee and hang out in. Has a great atmosphere no matter when you swing by.
Try: The Belgian Hot Chocolate
38 Lower Dominick Street
Tel: (091) 530 681
I love Rouge, it’s a really great place. The main draw is that they do a great steak with all the trimmings. I wouldn’t partake nowadays because I’ve gone vegetarian – but I loved it back in the day! It’s just a fantastic French restaurant with a great menu. Not too small, just nicely sized. They also have a great wine list.
Try: A bottle of the amazing Napoleon Grognard Bordeaux
ARD BIA AT NIMMOS
Tel: (091) 561 114
This a is one of my favourite restaurants in the entire country. They do one of the best vegetarian breakfasts I've eaten. A proper ‘veggie fry’, with lots of tomato and other yummy things. Price-wise, it’s totally reasonable. They do extremely good smoothies and juices as well. Plus, the staff are really friendly.
try: The Spiced Monkfish with Lebanese Broth, Mussels, Spinach & Sweet Peas
15 Cross Street/Quay Street
Tel: (091) 568 820
I love Neachtain's. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone there on spec and met five or six people that I hadn’t even planned on meeting – and just stayed there for the evening. It’s really good for ‘the lash’! The fact it’s such a historic place and so well-known adds to the overall vibe too. One of a kind.
Try: Their own Nimmo’s Seasonal Blonde Ale, Opus II Wheat Beer & Bonaparte Stout
2 Henry Street
Tel: (091) 587 766
I go there quite a bit when I’m in Galway. They’re big into craft beer, with a particularly wide selection of Irish ones. Again, it’s a really nice venue where you can just chill out. I’m a ‘craft beer enthusiast'! I like nice light beers and the good thing about the Bierhaus is that they’ll let you try them out and see what tastes good.
Try: A slug of their Herradura Reposado tequila
Cornstore Mall. Middle Street
Tel: (091) 561 766
I love Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. You can go in and waste a couple of hours without noticing. It’s got to be one of the coolest places around. The staff are great, super helpful, and everything is really reasonably priced.
TRY: Joining the bookish bargain-hunters on Sunday from 10am-5pm, when they open their Oranmore Business Park warehouse up to the public.
14 Churchyard Street
Tel: (091) 564 829
You’ll find Sheridan's on St. Nicholas’ Church Square. A cornucopia for cheese lovers, they also stock lots of local food-stuff. If you’re into cheese, Sheridan's is a must visit: it's in a terrific spot, right in the centre of the town.
Try: Sheridan’s Slow-Cooked Duck Leg Confit
52 Abbeygate Street Upper
Tel: (091) 568 771
Public Romance is an awesome vintage store near Shop Street. Again, the staff are really friendly so it’s always enjoyable to pop in for a mooch. It is one of those places that make you want to support local business.
Try: Picking up one of their extremely funk Fedoras.
THE CRANE BAR
2 Sea Road
Tel: (091) 587 419
If you’re into trad at all, The Crane is a great place to drop into: they have some amazing sessions. A cosy little spot, it's in the same area as the Róisín Dubh – the buzzing West End.
SEE: Kevin Whelan, Freda Hatton & friends on September 29
ST. NICHOLAS’ COLLEGIATE CHURCH
Tel: (086) 389 8777
In the middle of the city, this is a different kind of venue. They have a market on Saturday mornings as well here, which I's highly recommend.
SEE:The Parish Choir doing their thing every Sunday.
Lower Dominick Street
Tel: (091) 586 540
Was the Róisín Dubh a major feature of my college days in Galway? Absolutely! It was one of our big haunts. The Roisin is really good for music: apart from hosting a slew of big names, they do free gigs on a Thursday with Strange Brew and have a Silent Disco as well, which is massively popular at the moment. It has such a diverse mix of acts there, but the common denominator is quality.
SEE: The Original Rudeboys on September 28
GALWAY FARMERS MARKET
Beside St. Nicholas Church, Church Lane
For someone new to Galway, this market is a must-visit on a Saturday morning. One of the stalls there does Madras Pea & Potato Curry and there’s always a big queue there for it. Delicious!
Try: The sourdough from The Happy Loaf.
THE SPANISH ARCH
Tel: (091) 569 600
You definitely have to have a coffee by the Spanish Arch: it’s just so gorgeous down there! If you find a day when it’s not raining, go for it!
Try: To visit the Galway City Museum within its walls.
KICK THE WALL
You also have to kick the wall! You walk the length of the beautiful prom and when you come to the end... well, you kick the wall! It's a fun, touristy thing to say you’ve done.
Try: Not to break a toe!
NEXT BIG THING
Culture night is held once a year, with a variety of events being hosted in various venues around the city. There’s poetry, music, workshops and more. Well worth checking out.
SEE: The organ getting a workout from 7.30pm-8.15pm in Galway Cathedral.
THE VODAFONE COMEDY CARNIVAL
October 16 – 27
With Tommy Tiernan, David O’Doherty, Reginald D. Hunter, Simon Amstell, David Baddiel, The Rubberbandits and more lined up, this year's festival will be brilliant. Great value and great for a laugh – obviously!
SEE: PJ Gallagher, Reginald D. Hunter, Glen Wool, Celia Pacquola & Kevin McGahern in the Black Box on October 25
Elaine Mai plays Dublin’s Meeting House Square on October 4, as part of Hard Working Class Heroes. Go to soundcloud.com/elaine for free downloads