Into the West - an expert guide to shopping in Galway
Shopping in Galway city is always an experience - there's always a nice surprise around every corner, with lots of independent boutiques, designer label stores and high street favourites to discover. Our Fashion Editor, a regular visitor to the streets around Eyre Square, has compiled a list of her favourite haunts for WEEKEND readers to explore and enjoy... So, as they say in Galway, siopadóireacht sona!
I'm a demon for packing in a rush, which means I've often found myself in Galway minus essentials - like shoes with the toes in, as opposed to dancing sandals, which are no use in the rain... and, em, it rains a lot in the west.
I've been in the market for an extra hat after deciding to stay on for the rest of Galway Race Week, because I'm having such a good time after judging on Ladies' Day, I don't want to go home!
Socialising during the city's world-famous Oyster festival, which takes place every September, I've detoured off the shellfish trail to go meandering down the laneways off the Latin Quarter and check out the cute stores. My guilty pleasure is to self-gift and buy vintage costume jewellery. Read on for my top 10 Galway shopping hotspots…
1 Cobwebs, 7 Quay Lane, Galway, (091) 564 388, cobwebs.ie
Overlooking the famous Galway landmark of the Spanish Arch, Cobwebs was established in 1972 by Phyllis MacNamara. Specialising in fine and antique jewellery including jewels by Cartier, Boucheron, Kutchinsky, Mauboussin, Tiffany & Co, Van Cleef & Arpels and many more, Cobwebs also stocks vintage costume jewellery from the 1940s to 1980s.
They have a fine collection of antique silver, but it was their tray of vintage bracelets by Napier, Monet, Bouche and Begere from the 1940s and 1950s, priced from €150-€280, that sang to me - just last week. Afterwards, take a peppermint tea in the Cupan Tae cafe, which is right next door. Sit, enjoy the china and dream a while about the fabulous jewellery.
2 Brown Thomas, 18-21 Eglinton Buildings, Galway, (091) 565 254, brownthomas.com
Fashion problem solvers are a great asset in your life, especially someone like Myriam O'Reilly (above), the personal shopper at BTs, which is located close to the top of Eyre Square. This season, Myriam might steer you towards some choice new arrivals in Galway such as Preen, or maybe some Etoile, DVF or abfab Victoria Beckham. I want it all!
3 House of Portobello, 8A Cornstore, Cross Street Lower, Galway, (091) 535 895, houseofportobello.com
Owned by Gillian Quinn (above), this shop is located near the busy crossroads where High Street meets Quay Street and Cross Street slices through the middle. This store is a dream for those of you who like pre-loved haunts and the whole experience of finding a designer piece you might have missed first time around. In fact, you might never suspect that the goods are not brand-new, because of the visual merchandising and the whole look and feel of the store, but the one clue might be the vintage Louis Vuitton bags!
4 Cloon Keen Atelier, 21a High Street, Galway, (091) 565 736, cloonkeenatelier.com
Beyond the slim, cathedral-like stone arch on High Street, you will find perfumer Maggie Mangan (pictured page 21) with a dazzling smile and equally dazzling selection of gorgeous fragrances and long-lasting candles. Be sure to try the 'Spanish Arch' candle, named after the local landmark. There is something bewitching about this modern Irish perfumery based in the medieval city. Be sure to make time to speak to Maggie. She is so knowledgeable about the power of scents and, as she says herself, "fragrances will touch the heart and linger in the mind."
5 Taste of France, Cross Street Lower. (087) 442 1857, tasteoffrance.ie
This gem of a find stocks everything from blocks of Marseille soap from 'Le Chatelard 1802' for under a fiver, to striped Saint Jean de Luz handbags and travel bags. And when I say their the Le Comptoir de Mathilde chocolate spread is addictive, I mean it.
6 Willow, 16/ 17 Mainguard Street, Galway, (091) 536 972, willow.ie
Not yet a year old and already Willow has marked itself out as a major player on the local fashion scene. Owned by Jean McCabe (above), who hails from Ennis, where she opened her first Willow boutique at the tender age of 21, Willow stocks Ted Baker, Almost Famous, Sister Jane and Essential Antwerp. The one label that really took my eye was Matilde Cano, which features in our main image, (previous page), shot at the Claddagh.
7 Style Studio at Don't Call me Dear, 8 Mill Street, Galway, (091) 530 760, dontcallmedear.com
Owned by two pals who first met when one of their husbands was best man at the other's wedding, Angela Gillian and Martie O'Gorman (pictured above right in the background) have created a shop dedicated to occasion/wedding wear. Located in the west end of the city, it's just up the street from the Saturday morning market and past the Dominick Street junction. They have fave labels including Carla Ruiz, Carmen Melero, Frockart, Seed, Ann Balon, and stunning hats by Caithriona King.
8 Muse by Dee, 2-3 Middle Street, Galway, (091) 569 722, musebydee.ie
Dee Fallon opened her store just nine months ago, and she has gathered together a lovely clutch of labels including Keepsake, YaYa and LittleBlackDress, and her hats are also worth checking out.
9 Treasure Chest, 33 William Street, Galway, (091) 563 862, treasurechest.ie
This Galway institution with its Wedgewood blue paintwork is packed with everything from fashion to giftware. You will see tourists downstairs, checking out lace and sweaters, but upstairs, you will find locals in to buy labels like Airfield, Apanage, Basler, Joseph Ribkoff and Marc Cain. Their Mother of Bride offering is famous the length of the country and so too is the store's owner, Mary Bennett (pictured above), an energetic part of the backbone of Galway retailing for years.
10 Osha Boutique, 2 Cross Street Lower, Galway, (091) 535 850, oshaboutique.com
Malgosia Klonowska cut her teeth working in fashion in Galway and then opened her own store. Her accessories offer is very strong, especially the scarves and laser cut belts (pictured below).