15 Things You Should Know About Galway - European Capital of Culture 2020

A charming gem on the west coast of Ireland filled with music, nightlife and all sorts of fun, Galway will take the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture in 2020.

Galway is known as the Cultural Heart of Ireland

Irish people love to boast about Galway and that’s because it’s roundly regarded as the country’s cultural epicentre. Locals take great pride in Galway’s heritage and its reputation for music, art, literature and sport.

It boasts the longest place name in Ireland

A nightmare for any spelling bee… The longest place name in Ireland, Muckanaghederdauhaulia, is based in the civil parish of Kilcummin in Galway. Translated into English it means: “pig shaped hill between two seas.”

It’s the fourth-largest city in Ireland

A proud jewel of the Emerald Isle with a population of just over 80,000, Galway City is currently Ireland’s fourth-largest city and its second-largest county.

Sporting fanatics

Speaking of sport... Galwegians absolutely love their sport, whether its traditional GAA, rugby or soccer. Galway were crowned All-Ireland hurling champions in 2017 (star forward Joe Canning is a local celebrity) and they’ve won the All-Ireland football championship 9 times. Connacht Rugby, Pro12 champions in 2016, play their games at the Galway Sportsground too.

Galway Arts Festival

Remember when we said Galway was considered the “Cultural Heart of Ireland”? Well, the annual Galway International Arts Festival is the perfect event to capture its essence up close and personal. A bunch of exciting events are spread across two weeks every July, from street performers, to live music, dancing, art and everything in-between.

Galway Film Fleadh

Fancy yourself a film buff? The Galway Film Fleadh takes place every July as part of the Galway Arts Festival in the city. Founded in 1989, it is Ireland’s leading film festival with productions from local and international directors. There’s tons going on for movie aficionados between screenings, conferences, masterclasses and networking events.

Actor Peter O’Toole has proud Galway roots… but he wasn’t born here

Peter O’Toole holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations (8) without winning an Oscar. For years the Lawrence of Arabia star claimed he was from Connemara, but he was actually born in Leeds. His father was a bookmaker from Galway and O’Toole always held the county close to his heart.

The world-famous Claddagh Ring

Speaking of hearts, the famous Claddagh Ring is known all around the world. It’s origins hail from Galway and the ring, showing two hands cupping a heart with a crown on top, is the county’s personal symbol of friendship and love.

Salthill Promenade

Galway Bay has some of the most beautiful scenery on the West coast of Ireland and it’s here you will come across the magnificent promenade at Salthill. It’s true that Galway is famous for its culture and nightlife, but the views along the coast are well worth making time for, particularly during the summer.

Galway has the largest Gaeltacht in Ireland

Galway has an abundance of Irish speakers and the county proudly boasts Ireland’s single largest and most populated Gaeltacht. Sláinte to that!

Galway is listed as a UNESCO City of Film

Galway made history back in 2014 by becoming just the fifth-ever UNESCO City of Film and the first city to do so from Ireland. Galway Film Centre and Galway County Council drove the bid for the prestigious honour, which saw Galway selected from a shortlist of 63 cities across the world.

It hosts the world’s longest-running Oyster Festival

The Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is a four-day event held every year on the last weekend in September. In 2020 it will feature seafood trails, oyster hot spots, oyster opening championships, including the Oyster ‘Olympics’, foodie talks & tasting events. Very fishy indeed.

Galway has a lovely park named after John F. Kennedy

JFK’s famous Irish ancestry hails from Tipperary, but the 35th US President also has a park named after him further west in Galway. Known by locals as Eyre Square, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park was named in honour of the former President after he paid a visit to the city and made a speech in 1963. There is a portrait bust of Kennedy in the centre of the park.

The Aran Sweater

The Aran Islands are one of the most popular tourist spots for anyone going on a visit to Galway. The islands of Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer boasts incredible cliffs, coastline and ancient monastic sites. But did you know the islands have also inspired a famous style of jumper? Made out of sheep’s wool in a cream white colour with cable patterns across the body and sleeves, you’ll look like a proper local donning this fine piece of traditional Irish fashion.

Famous tunes

Galway is famous for its music and nightlife and there have been quite a few famous songs written about this lovely corner of Ireland. Sharon Shannon’s ‘Galway Girl’ was a number one hit in 2007. Bing Crosby put the county on the world stage with his rendition of ‘Galway Bay’, while Ed Sheeran also popularised the region with his tune ‘The Galway Girl’ which featured Saorise Ronan in his music video.

Heading to Galway soon? Make sure to tag us in your photos using the hashtag #ryanairstories – you might be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed.