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The food, the ceol agus craic. Here's why Galway is a special place on earth

The music, the people, the beautiful scenery – Galway want to be the European City of Culture 2020. Why do you think it deserves it?


Each year since 1985 the European Union designates one or more cities as a European Capital of Culture. Croatia and Ireland will host the event in 2020, and have launched their respective competitions. Galway, Dublin, Limerick and the South East are all competing for the title.

We asked each candidate to tell us about some of the great things about their city. Are you from Galway? Get involved and tell us what you love about your city. 

GALWAY CITY AND County and the Galway 2020 team are gearing up to battle out the competition in the bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2020. Here is a taste of what sets Galway, the cultural heart of Ireland, apart from its competitors.


1. We’ve the Claddagh ring and the Galway Hooker

No stranger to holding large scale gatherings, international festivals and events, Galway is renowned for its artistic vision and innovation in all walks of life and thrives on being an international centre of cultural excellence.

The City of Tribes is steeped in rich cultural history, and its symbols such as the Claddagh ring and the Galway Hooker hold a special place in the hearts of many, right across the world.

The deeply rich and inspiring Galway arts scene has generated an extensive calendar of fascinating international standard festivals, celebrations and events that draw visitors from all over the world to Galway and the west of Ireland.

The calendar of events and arts groups include:

  • Galway International Arts Festival
  • Druid Theatre Company
  • Macnas and their Performance and street theatre Spectacles
  • Europe’s longest running racing festival the Galway Races
  • Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival
  • Galway Food Festival
  • Galway Film Fleadh
  • Clifden Arts Festival
  • Ballinasloe Horse Fair
  • Cuirt International Festival of Literature and many many more.

It is also home to the Town Hall Theatre, Galway Arts Centre and their performance venue in Nun’s Island and the Irish Language Theatre, An Taibhdhearc.

shutterstock_280125422 Source: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

2. The Galway people – warm and welcoming

We’ve been hugely inspired and stimulated by the collective voice of the people of Galway.

Galway’s community spirit is the key to its success, and the city and county’s economy is thriving across it’s wide range of business sectors.

Galway’s unique atmosphere comes from this fusion of creativity and the warm hospitality of its people. A powerhouse of talent with a highly educated workforce, exciting things are happening in this bustling and highly creative hub. Galway is a dynamic and diverse city of culture and design, with a unique and innovative footprint that is flourishing across an array of sectors.

Once inspired by the 14 tribes of Galway, it’s now home to thousands of immigrants who call Galway home.


3. We have the best sites to visit

The City of Tribes is bursting with historical landmarks that can be found along it’s myriad of cobbled streets, from Eyre Square to the Lynch Memorial Window. The modern City Museum, located next to the Spanish Arch represents the intertwining of the old and new culture of Galway city.

Galway Cathedral is steeped in local culture and history, as is St Nicholas’ Church and the weekly Saturday Market in its foreground, and not forgetting Nora Barncale’s house in Bowling Green or the famous promenade in Salthill. Images of Kylemore Abbey, Coole Park, Connemara National Park, Letterfrack’s creative design village and world renowned furniture college boast the backdrop of the Twelve Bens and Lough Corrib.

shutterstock_249711544 Source: Shutterstock/Ivica Drusany

4. The Connemara Gaeltacht – a place of utter beauty 

Connemara, boasting Ireland’s largest Irish-speaking Gaeltacht area, is situated at the very edge of Europe on the Wild Atlantic way, and is one of Ireland’s most magical and unspoilt regions. From the rugged Twelve Bens mountain range to the beautiful golden beaches of Roundstone and Ballyconneely, Connemara is unrivalled for its unique beauty, culture and tradition.

The Aran Islands lie at the edge of Galway Bay. Each the three islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr offer a truly unique experience where the Irish Language is very much the first language.

The islands are steeped in rich culture and history with a wealth of archaeological sights to be enjoyed such as the majestic pre-historic forts of Dún Aonghus and Dún Chonchuair. These vibrant island communities embrace the creativity that makes Galway so special alongside their English speaking Islands of Inishbofin further along the Connemara

Coast line where arts and science come together in a natural environment to inspire summer schools.

galway Source: Galway2020

5. Conas atá tú? The Irish Language is in our hearts 

The Irish language is at the heart of Galway City, and Gaillimh le Gaeilge are working to gain bilingual status for the city of Galway, to further instil in its citizens a true sense of identity and pride for their native language while inspiring our visitors to hear and learn the language on a regular basis. Sitting at the edge of the Connemara Gaeltacht, the city is perfectly placed to assume this status.

6. The grub is world class

Galway is a city of gastronomy on the Wild Atlantic Way. Home to a food movement that is constantly evolving, Galway boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants among its huge array of top class eateries.

Galway has recently hosted the inaugural Food On The Edge symposium which saw Michelin Star chefs from all over the world descend on Galway and it’s hinterland to learn, educate and explore the uniqueness of local ingredients from the coastal islands, Connemara, Galway city and it’s rich hinterland all around the county.

From experimental and edgy at the Michelin Starred Loam and Aniar, to the gourmet offerings in the West End of the city, the old favourites such as Mc Donagh’s fish and chips, or one of the diverse offerings at the Weekend Market, the possibilities are endless!

Galway food scene is thriving with plenty of creative offerings, all of which focus on local produce and ingredients – from O’Grady’s on the Pier in Barna to the fishing village of Roundstone to Clifden the capital of Connemara or to the world’s best hotel the five star Ashford Castle on the shores of Lough Corrib

shutterstock_133879832 Source: Shutterstock/littleny

7. The passion is bubbling over in this city

The passion of Galway city is evident as it prepares for the next step of its bid to become the 2020 European Capital of Culture. Considerable excitement is evident with communities across all sectors brimming with energy to implement their ideas and concepts, ready to showcase the culture and passion that lies at the heart of Galway.

Galway2020 made its pitch to the selection of European judges today. You can keep up to date on the Galway bid on their Facebook and Twitter campaigns by logging onto www.Galway2020.ie or by joining the conversation online using the hashtag #Galway2020, #ibackgalway. We will also be featuring the other cities. 

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