If you happen to stumble upon this post, you’re probably considering taking an English language course in Ireland. You may have even chosen Ireland because you’ve been told this unique country boasts dramatic landscapes of green pastures and rolling hills, with the occasional picturesque flock of sheep grazing by the verge of its country lanes. Well, you’ve never been so right! But to get the very best of both the culture and the scenic natural beauty of Ireland, there is but one place – Galway.
Keen to practice my English with native speakers while enjoying a well deserved holiday, I set off to Ireland a few years ago with a friend of mine. The Irish truly live up to their reputation of being the most incredibly kind, open, and welcoming people on earth! My friend and I stayed in a bed & breakfast in Galway and had not even set foot inside the house when our hosts were already popping the kettle on and offering us a slice of a delicious home made cake. They really bent over backwards to make sure we enjoyed our stay!
After a little chat and a lovely afternoon tea with our hosts, we decided to explore Galway. One of the best things about the city is that everything is within walking distance. We spent the entire afternoon strolling down winding cobbled streets full of shops and pubs with multicoloured traditional shopfronts. On William Street, you can even rest your feet on a bench, sitting between Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde! With the day drawing to a close, we headed to the sea front area of Salthill, where our English school in Galway is located, to enjoy a beautiful view of the bay.
Not only is Galway a charming little city boasting an authentic Irish atmosphere, but it also offers an array of bars, pubs and clubs catering for all tastes on the nightlife scene! My friend and I first decided to try some first-class local pints of stout in a cosy pub where an Irish band was playing traditional folk music. One step in an Irish pub and you are instantly overwhelmed with a warm feeling of friendliness and conviviality! Even if it was just the two of us, we quickly made many Irish friends throughout the night and most of the time people spontaneously came up to us to start a conversation! At night, the area around Shop and High Streets is the heart and soul of the city. One of my favorite pubs there is the King’s Head and if you feel like spending the night drinking whisky whilst sitting on a medieval throne, you’ll love it too!
For those of you who think the night is still young at midnight, you’re wrong! You can dance the night away in the late bars and nightclubs around the city, all located in the centre of the Galway.
Now, if you study English in our school in Galway, you’ll have plenty of time to go and explore the breathtaking beauty of its surroundings. My friend and I simply could not resist the call of the open road and went for an amazing road trip across the Connemara. On the west coast of Ireland, this unspoilt natural treasure is located just one hour and a half drive away from Galway city. My friend had to stop the car every 10 minutes to take countless pictures of the ever changing spectacular skies and their reflections in the lakes. I just felt like drinking in the unique atmosphere of this ancient land and this amazing feeling of endlessness. Ireland is a small yet great country!
We drove up to the Connemara National Park and climbed up to the top to enjoy a panoramic view over the whole valley, its hills and its lakes as far as the eye can see. Once you are in the National Park, you’re just a few minutes away from Kylemore Abbey, a famous landmark in County Galway. Dating back to the second half of the 19th century, the castle and its beautiful gardens by the lake are definitely worth a visit!
Another excursion you should not miss during you stay in Galway is a trip to the Aran Islands. You just need to drive about 45 minutes to the east to reach the ferry terminal in Ros a’ Mhíl. It usually takes less than an hour to get to the islands. Once there, the best way to discover the natural beauty of the landscapes is to cycle around the island. You cannot fail to be dazzled by the serene view of stone walls surronding green fields with the waves crashing against the spectacular ragged coast of the island.
Galway and its surroudings is a truly outstanding location to learn English and to discover the charms of the Irish way of life. Start packing!