Galway - Spanish Arc

The Spanish Arch in Galway, part of the old city walls

The big cities in Europe are obviously great, but sometimes you might fancy a little adventure in something different. In that case, it might be worth checking out Galway in Ireland, one of the most westerly cities in Europe.

Winding streets and Sea

Population wise, Galway is very small, with a population of only around 75,000. It’s a city of little winding streets and alleys, centred on Shop St, its main pedestrianised artery. The city centre is generously sprinkled with pubs, bars and nightclubs; those looking for a night out will find themselves with plenty of choice. The coastal location means that the sea is never too far away, and on sunny days there’s nothing better than chilling down by the water at the Spanish Arch, a remaining fragment of the old coastal city walls. Those of a nature-y disposition can head to Connemara, the rural area to the west of the city, home to some of Ireland’s greenest and wildest natural landscapes.

Galway - Harbour

The view from Galway Harbour looking in towards the city

St. Vincent and shit weather

In terms of culture, Galway is Ireland’s most conventionally arty city. The city’s university, NUI Galway, has a large arts department that provides plenty of graduates to supply the town’s creative industries. The Galway Arts festival, held annually in July, is the major event on the cultural calendar, and features a flurry of dramatic and musical events, street performances and parades (ST. VINCENT is dropping in to play this year). In terms of weather, Galway fulfils the Irish stereotype so perfectly that Darby O’Gill and the Little People could sue it for plagiarism. Galway is rainy; very, very rainy. Situated right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Galway is frequently very wet, windy and cold, and on its worst days living here can feel like an exercise in masochism. However, it makes up for it by becoming ridiculously pretty and blissful on the rare occasions the sun comes out. And Irish beach culture is probably one of the few where you pack a rainjacket along with your towel and flip-flops.

Music Scene

Ireland’s too small a country to really have city scenes in the traditional sense. Instead, the cities act as interconnected hubs, with bands regularly playing gigs and collaborating with other musicians in different cities. Galway is no exception to this rule, and Ireland’s top indie bands, as well as many famous international acts, frequently pop in for gigs. Gigs will usually bring you to The Rosin Dubh, the pub/club/second home for the city’s indie kids.

The Irish music stereotype is of course of a bearded acoustic warbler spinning tales of heartbreak and Celtic darkness, but luckily there are fewer and fewer of these people around (we’ve retained a few to help sell things to American tourists). Instead, the really exciting work in Irish music is being done in the electronic scene, and Galway is no exception in this regard. There has been a flood of producers and artists making really, really good house, dance and electronica records. In addition to this, new and exciting club nights are continuously popping up around the city. The likes of Tome, Kinetika, Bap to The Future and many more, operating in various venues around the city, bring in top DJs and producers, as well as providing opportunities for homegrown talents, and have helped make Galway’s clubbing scene one of the most dynamic and exciting in the country. Factory is one of the best places to go for beats.

A Galway Mixtape

Having had a quick look at the city itself, it’s time to check out some of the most exciting acts operating out of Galway right now. Here are five examples:

01. John Daly

DJ and producer who frequently plays tops clubs around the world, as well as Boiler Room sets.

02. Not Squares

Technically cheating here as NOT SQUARES are from Belfast rather than Galway, but the hyperactive disco band are signed to Galway label Strange Brew Rekkids and often drop in for shows.


Doomy darkwave electronica from shadowy duo.

04. Revin Goff

Glitchy, warped electronica. Salthill is incidentally the name of Galway’s main beach area.

05. Oh Boland

As a break from all the electronic stuff above, a little sample of BLACK LIPS-ian scuzzy indie rock.