I had four of the best years of my life in Galway city, spending my days studying and stressing, my nights drinking and my mornings regretting.
It’s a beautiful city and on any ordinary Saturday, it’s hard to be beaten in Ireland but on Paddy’s Day, there is literally no comparison.
If you’re looking for the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day and night out experience, then Galway city is the place to be.
Each of these pubs are going to be packed on Saturday but you need to be in there because the craic is going to be something else. And if you miss it, you’ll be playing catch up for the rest of the 17th.
You don’t have to hit up every single one, but if you’re going to go somewhere in Galway, it should be one of these pubs. But if you can, try and head to as many as possible.
Just off Eyre Square, O’Connell’s looks absolutely tiny from the outside but once you wiggle your way through the front bar and into the back part of it, you’re transported into a different world entirely. A world where dough bros (it’s the best pizza in the west of Ireland, it’s only a matter of time before it takes over Dublin, you’ve been warned) has a van out the back and memorabilia fills the walls.
Pray for a fine day and you won’t find a nicer place to spend a sunny Paddy’s Day than in here. And if it looks familiar from the outside, that’s because it starred in Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl video.
Photos: O’Connell’s Facebook Page
From here you are only a stone’s throw away from Galway’s Parade if that tickles your fancy and once that’s over, it should be nearly time for the big sporting events of the day.
Ireland are playing England in the Six Nations and while the trophy itself is Ireland’s already after four straight wins, if they beat the English on their own turf, they will make it a Grand Slam and will also pick up a Triple Crown on the way.
As well as this, the GAA club finals are on and Galway’s pride and joy, Corofin are in the footballing final. There was scenes all over the town of the Tribe when the hurlers won in September and we can only imagine that it’ll be the same if Corofin do the business.
We’re undecided about where to send you for that game. The atmosphere in An Púcán will be something else but the amount of screens in McGettigan’s means that you’ll be covered no matter where you are situated in the place.
Another place that was made for a sunny day. Its smoking area looks small but fits around one hundred or more people in it at a push. If you’re a mad rugby head this is probably a better option of the two for you as there’s a chance you’ll bump into someone from the Connacht squad or a high rugby profile might appear also.
You won’t, sadly, meet this man here on St. Patrick’s Day this year but if Ireland do win, there’s a good chance he’ll be here the following week with cup in tow singing again.
It was built specifically for the likes of these occasions and its one of the biggest bars in Galway. In a previous life, it was ‘The Bentley’ nightclub but it is thriving now as one of Galway’s best places to go to for sporting events. The smoking area is outside and is equipped with two televisions so, it’s quite possible to catch the craic on the street and the matches all while enjoying your pint and cigarette.
If this is the reaction that Sexton’s last-minute drop goal got against France, imagine what a win against the English on Paddy’s Day would be like?
Barr an Chaladh
We’re not joking when we say that this place is heaven on earth. Be warned though, they don’t take card so have that money ready when you go in there because once you enter, you can’t leave.
You can’t, simple as. If you leave, you will not get back in. In fact, we’re actually surprised you got a spot here in the first place. I’ll give you an insight into what Barr an Chaladh is like. The night before Storm Ophelia, the whole of the city was dead.
We decided to head into BAC for a quiet one or four before we braced ourselves for Ireland’s biggest storm in years. We opened the door and witnessed the pub at its maximum. It was everyone’s safe place that night and on Saturday it’s going to be a mad house. If you’re up for some live music and 37 renditions of the ‘Fields Of Athenry’ with some of the best Guinness in Ireland, then you’re in luck.
If you’re looking for a place to watch the GAA finals, this might be a better shout than the two above also.
This is it on a normal day, yeah, we know!
Name a better trio than: ‘The Front Door’, ‘Sonny Molloy’s’ and ‘Tigh Nora’, we’ll wait. If Mayo had a full forward line as strong as this, they’d win Sam year after year. We’re not really sure why The Front Door and Sonny Molloy’s have two different names considering they are essentially the same pub just at different ends. The Front Door is three stories full of fun. It’s the type of place where you make your own craic so being in the perfect company is essential here.
Sonny Molloy’s is the bar to the front of the pub. My friend once said that the pints in the Sonny part of the pub tasted better than the rest of the pub, why not find out for yourself.
Tigh Nora, on the other hand, is where gin lovers go to live and die and are buried under the floorboards after. There is over 150 types of gin in Tigh Nora, if you’ve ever wanted to try a specific one, it’s going to be in here. You can visit all three of these places without leaving the one building.
Here’s some quick ones you should visit if you get the chance also.
This pub on Shop Street is a nice little pit stop on your journey. You might not stay here for the whole day or night but you’ll enjoy your time in there. It’s a tight spot – the bar, the toilets and the smoking area are all within a 50 foot radius of each other. You can expect a great session in the nighttime also.
It’s the self proclaimed ‘home of traditional Irish music’. Situated at the bottom of Shop Street, it’s usually a cosy pub but on a day like Paddy’s Day, it’ll be overflowing. The atmosphere, music and craic would be worth popping your head in for one. The music is normally played near the front, however, so getting in could be a problem…
Much Like Tigh Nora above, this is where those who love their drop of whiskey should head when in Galway city. They have over 130 different types so it’s safe to say that they know their stuff. There’s plenty of booths and snugs in the place but you’ll need to be quick in order to bag one.
But you can’t visit Galway without calling into the behemoth that is Taaffes
This is without doubt my favourite pub in Galway. If it’s sunny, try and grab a seat outside and just watch the madness that is Shop Street from top to bottom. The air will be filled with music from buskers outside and from trad musicians inside and you never know what stories you’d hear from people passing.
Some of the finest Irish musicians have played here and they don’t get much better and bigger than Sharon Shannon – one of the many who have graced the door of this fine establishment.
There’s never a cover charge despite all this sweet music and it’s also a GAA mad pub so you can get lost looking at all the memorabilia on the wall.
Make sure and ask one of the bar men about the whole in their ceiling too!
You could head towards Dominic Street and plonk yourself at the Crane Bar, The Blue Note or Monroe’s but if you’ve ventured that far than the Róisín Dubh should be really on your to-do list. It’s the most alternative place in Ireland and was hipster long before the term caught up with the rest of Ireland. If you go, you’ll get to see the Galway Street Club – a 15-piece powerhouse street band that started off busking on Shop Street and have since got a manager and travelled the world over – in all their glory.
But if you’re possibly thinking of keeping up with the young guns and heading to a nightclub, heading to The Skeff could be the right thing to do. It has an easy access back door to DNA nightclub and if you’ve spent a few quid in there, you might be able to skip the queue to get into the nightclub first. Carbon, 44 and Electric are also there to choose from and if you’re in The Skeff, you’ll be in close vicinity to all of those.
Galway knows how to celebrate big occasions properly so if you’re planning on a booze-y Paddy’s Day, then go west.
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