In Galway, we are fiercely proud of our deep cultural, artistic, and traditional arts heritage. At Clayton Hotel Galway we invite you to share it with us by joining in the fun during festivals and sporting events, or by spending time at some of our visitor centres and historical sites to get a deeper understanding of our heritage. There’s plenty to do in this city of culture!
Begin your tour of Galway, the city of culture with The Claddagh or ‘An Cladach’ meaning ‘the shore’. The Claddagh is a notable area in Galway, on the western side of the city. The Claddagh was once an ancient fishing village, dating from the fifth century. This community, most of whom sold their daily catches at a market near the Spanish Arch, lived in thatched cottages. They sailed in the famous Galway Hooker boats and spoke Irish. They even had their own king, who led the fishing fleet and settled disputes in the community.
Today, the Claddagh area includes St Mary’s Dominican Church, a national school, and a community centre. The original village of thatched cottages was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by council houses. The last true King of Claddagh, Martin Oliver, passed away in 1972 but the title is still used in an honorary and ceremonial context. The current king is Michael Lynskey.
Legend has it that this area was most famous for the Claddagh ring, which was created by jeweler, Richard Joyce. The story goes that he was kidnapped by pirates on his way to the West Indies and his master taught him jewelry craft. When he was released, he returned to Galway and set up his trade. The design of the ring symbolizes love, friendship, and loyalty and is of two clasped hands holding a crowned heart and is a popular souvenir for visitors to the city.
Claddagh Arts Centre & Katie’s Cottage Museum
Step back in time and experience one of Galway’s most popular heritage attractions. Katie’s Cottage Museum and Arts Centre is a restored authentic Claddagh traditional dwelling in the heart of one of the oldest fishing villages in Ireland and a must-see spot when visiting this city of culture. The cottage was lovingly restored by owner Cathriona Walsh with the help of her father, who was a designer and builder on the project. Both a hub of artisan activity, as well as a chance to experience traditional Claddagh community life as it was between the 17th and 20th centuries, this is an opportunity not to be missed. During a time when fishing was the main way of life, the inhabitants lived in thatched cottages, spoke Gaelic, and had many customs and traditions which were unique to the place. However, during the Great Famine in the 1840s, Claddagh people suffered significant hardship with many emigrating to America and Australia.
In the early part of the 20th Century, most of the traditional thatched homes in the area were demolished as they lacked basic modern sanitation facilities, with the remaining cottages destroyed in the 1950s to make way for modern-style homes. The aim of Katie’s Cottage Museum and Arts Centre is to commemorate the rich history and traditions of The Claddagh people. Along with a warm welcome, each guest receives a cup of tea/coffee and a homemade scone baked above the open fire and can view maps and records to see if they may be descended from the Claddagh people. You can also buy wonderfully crafted pieces of art, created from bog oak, stone, and wood.
Galway Food Tours
Galway Food Tours is a 1.5 – 2 hour culinary walking tour of Galway. It gives a great overview of our passionate people and our beautiful produce which combine to make Galway one of Ireland’s gourmet jewels. During the tour you will meet artisan producers and sample their products with an experienced guide, Sheena Dignam, giving you insights into our local favorites, treasured ingredients and Galway culture.
Sheena Dignam; a Franco-Irish food and wine lover who is originally from Wicklow but grew up in the Loire Valley, where she studied Culinary Arts & Wine. Having spent over 15 years in the food industry, her passion has led her to launch Galway Food Tours in Galway, the city of culture. Due to restrictions, Food Tours will commence in September 2021.
The Irish Dance Experience
The Irish Dance Experience is a dance activity hosted by a former lead dancer of Riverdance, Siobhan Manson.
These Irish dance classes are the ideal activity for visitors wishing to enjoy an authentic Irish experience or local dance enthusiasts looking to discover the fun and health benefits that are experienced through Irish dancing.
Galway Walking Tours
A walking tour – what a great way to discover the rich history and cultural heritage of Galway city, and the good thing about Galway is that it’s fairly compact and easy enough to get around on foot. Explore the Footsteps of the past with any of the reputable walking tour companies operating in the city including Fiona Brennan or Brian Nolan.
If you are looking to experience Galway by foot and find out all about how this wonderful cultural city has come into its current existence, then book one of these tours today.
You will walk in the footsteps of Galway’s Medieval History telling the stories of:
- Spanish Arch
- The Tribes of Galway
- The Collegiate Church of St Nicholas
- Lynch’s Window
- Eyre Square
- Augustinian Church and many more landmarks
- Colourful Galway Characters
- And much more
At the end of this leisurely walk (approximately 90-minute walk) feel free to explore the delights of the City of the Tribes for yourself, enjoy a spot of shopping or take the short journey back to Clayton Hotel Galway for a spot of Afternoon Tea, lunch or a leisurely well deserved dip in the 20 metre swimming pool.
Discover even more of Galway’s culture at An Taibhdhearc. Pronounced ‘Taiv-yark’, it means ‘ghostly vision’ – which is formed from two Irish words, ‘taibhse’ meaning ghost, and ‘dearcadh’ meaning ‘view’ – the founders wanted to achieve an otherworldly vision on the stage.
The state-of-the-art theatre is open for business and is a highly suitable venue for music, drama, film, comedy, conferences, seminars, workshops, and launches. The auditorium has 148 seats, projection facilities, a cyclorama, a lighting rig, a full sound and PA system with great acoustics suitable for live music as well as a cinematic presentation with full surround sound.
The foyer area is perfect for hosting receptions for up to 100 people, while our friendly staff can provide ushering services. There is a full bar and wine license.
Town Hall Theatre
The city of culture has many beautiful theatres that are well worth a visit! Galway’s cultural theatre is located near the vibrant neighbourhood of Woodquay, just steps away from the River Corrib. The large theatre incorporates a state-of-the-art 400-seat auditorium and a 60-seat Studio Space. As one of the largest theatres in Galway, you’ll find any number of performances on stage each month, from festival acts to independent theatre, comedy, opera, and ballet.
Their in-house bar is the perfect place to sit and relax while you wait for the show to begin. If you’re ever at a loose end, just check what the Town Hall Theatre has on — there’s always something, and it’s always good!
Blue Teapot Theatre Company
Blue Teapot Theatre Company is a multi-award-winning theatre company, performing arts school, and outreach project for people with intellectual disabilities. It has a Performing Arts School with a pioneering three-year programme, that offers training in performing arts skills to people with ID leading to QQI/FETAC awards at levels 2 & 3.
Bright Soul is an Outreach programme that offers weekly theatre workshops and event participation to members. With Bright Soul, Blue Teapot casts its net out wider into the community.
Nuns Island Theatre
Nuns Island Theatre is a small intimate fully equipped 82 seat theatre situated in the heart of Galway City. The theatre is available for rental for a variety of functions from Theatre and Film, workshops and readings to meetings and weddings.
The theatre is a flexible space that can be utilized as a Blackbox space for all forms and styles of performance. It can also be utilized for workshops, readings, and rehearsals, and can be flooded with natural light by removing the wall drapes and exposing the eight large windows.
The theatre has a sloped seating bank that when fully open holds 82 seats. The seating bank in itself is flexible and can be opened to house a smaller no of seats and give a larger performance area. It is possible to not use the seating bank and to stage work in a promenade, trust staging, or in the round style. This will incur extra costs and must be agreed upon in advance as it will mean hiring in staging and seating.
The theatre has a fully equipped control room, toilets and showers, and one dressing room. The theatre is wheelchair accessible.
The Black Gate
If you’re looking for a taste of the arts, a bit of good food, a glass of wine, and a slightly slower pace, you’ll be right at home at the Black Gate Cultural Centre.
The Black Gate prides itself on being a home for the arts. Every week, they welcome new artists and musicians through their doors, fueling Galway’s creative soul. They’re also a home for book readings, gallery-style displays from local artists, and film screenings.
Come for the cracking events, but stay for the atmosphere. Pop in on your lunch break for a toasted sandwich, a cup of coffee, and a warm welcome in their library room. In the evening, the Black Gate offers a unique experience, with cheese and charcuterie boards to share, wine by the glass or by the bottle, and a selection of Irish and international craft beer. Their jazz club regularly brings in local and international artists, which sets the stage for a perfect night of culture, art, and enjoyment in Galway!
Galway City Museum
Galway City Museum reopened on 16th April 2007 with the launch of its permanent exhibition. Among the highlights of Galway culture on show is a rare 17th-century altarpiece, the new location of the statue of Pádraic Ó’Connaire and the Galway City hooker boat, named ‘Máirtín Oliver’ by the general public. Other highlights include the Galway Civic Sword and Great Mace. The Civic Sword dates from the time of the Charter of King James I. The Great Mace, a massive piece of ornamental silverwork, was made in Dublin in 1710 and was presented to the town by Edward Eyre, Mayor of Galway, in 1712.
The ground floor of the Museum houses a fascinating collection of artifacts dating back to Prehistoric and Medieval times, while the first and second floors host exhibitions reflecting the history, stories, and experiences of the people of Galway. The galleries host a series of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. New exhibitions include prehistoric and medieval Galway, Padraic Ó’Conaire – the man and the statue, Lamb in Connemara (paintings by Charles Lamb), dancehall days, cinema in Galway, the Arts in Galway, and modern languages (craft exhibition).
Discover the Legend of the Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh ring has become iconic the world over thanks to the spread of the Irish across the globe. The simple symbols of love, loyalty, and friendship have become synonymous with countless love stories since it was first created. Delve into the history and lore of this iconic ring at the Legend of the Claddagh Ring Museum and visitor centre in Galway, where you can learn where the ring first came from and what it has come to represent.
Find out about Richard Joyce and his incredible journey as he was taken away from his one true love and the story behind the ring, he created with our Legend of the Claddagh Ring movie staring Pádraic Breathnach. Showing every twenty minutes. Children and adults alike will love this swashbuckling tale.
Immerse yourself in the culture and history of Claddagh, the small fishing village in Galway in which the ring was named after. Discover famous Claddagh rings through history and how they became symbolic of Irish heritage and Galway culture.
Things to do in Galway
Also, check our Online Concierge for tips and recommendations on what to see in Galway. Trust us, we’re locals!