“One aspect presided over by the families was Galway’s social life. While the fourteen houses no longer wield their former influence, the city’s pre-eminence as Ireland’s party capital has given rise to a group of modern day tribes vying for control of the bustling social scene. Not necessarily tied to any specific bloodline, the current clans instead relate to geographical areas, each home to its own tightly-knit cluster of popular venues. In the city centre you have Eyre Square and Shop Street, housing Galway’s largest pubs and clubs. Around the corner is up-and-coming Woodquay, currently reinventing itself and winning back a fair share of the revellers. Back down towards the river sits the Latin Quarter, popular among tourists and locals alike. Finally, just a stone’s throw across the River Corrib is Galway’s West End, a powerhouse of boutique pubs and eateries, even boasting its own Michelin star restaurant. With so much happening in such a small space, it’s easy to see why Galway is a tourist mecca.”
I’ve lived in Galway for five years with my Irish wife. I’m originally from Australia and America, having grown up and completed my studies across both countries. My local friends have noted that as an outsider with a local wife, I’m able to pick up on idiosyncrasies they themselves fail to ever notice. As someone who has never really had a home, I absolutely love Ireland and Galway. I’ve decided to settle here permanently for many reasons, including the fact that it is a great base for exploring Europe and America further still. Despite its small population and stature, Galway City is an extremely important part of the country. Local Irish holiday-makers visit from around the country every summer (and winter), and countless bus and ferry loads of Americans, French, Germans and English visit year-round. The City and surrounding county have a unique and ancient history, however the tourist dollars and influx of income and investment from American multi-nationals has allowed the city to sprint forwards into the 21st century. As a result, it punches well above its weight, especially when compared with all other towns and cities of an equal or greater size in Ireland. I include Dublin on this list, somewhere with approximately fifteen times as many residents but nowhere as much attraction for visitors (or locals).