Monday 23 October 2017

A native's guide to Galway

Locals give Louise Hogan some hot tips for visitors to the City of the Tribes

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Maire Treasa Ni Dhubhghaill

Presenter of Ponc and Rugbai Beo on TG4

The 28-year-old hails from Coill Rua, Indreabhan. "If you walk from the top of Shop Street down as far as the Claddagh, you are sure to meet people from every walk of life, and there's always music being played, with people gathered around street performers.

"I love Kai cafe and restaurant, and you have to try their desserts. Another favourite of mine is 37 West, a new restaurant whose slogan is 'sexy is the new healthy'.

"I'm a big fan of traditional music so I'd have to recommend Tig Coili for a drink to soak up the atmosphere, or if you fancy leaving the city, a drive out west to Connemara will bring you to the gems of Spiddal and beyond.

"The Galway Races has always meant something special, no matter what age you are. My daideo used to always love the races for a pint, and then you have women, like my friends and I, who prepare our outfits a few weeks in advance.

"My fiance, John, comes from a family of bookies so I'm being trained how to pick a winner. I usually go for the name, although I can't say this tactic has worked in the past."

Anna Forde

Co-owner of Yourells Hair Salon, Eyre Street

The fashion conscious Headford native is a well-known Galway socialite, alongside her beau, the dapper Dave Hosty. "For those seeking brunch before the races, the G Counter is the place to go. I'd recommend their very fabulous 'Dogs and Bubbles', the yummiest hotdogs washed down with a glass of bubbles.

"I have spent many the race night and early hours dancing my socks off in the Radisson, where the atmosphere is electric. But I'd advise getting there early as it gets packed very quickly.

"I spend most of race week in the salon and we have bubbles flowing from 8am, a red carpet, along with a doorman in top hat and tails. The local bookie comes in to give tips and the excitement for the day ahead creates a very special atmosphere.

"Last year, when I was placing a bet for the Galway Plate, a very wise man watched as I struggled to choose a horse. He advised I pick the horse wearing the same colour as my dress, which happened to be green. I chose Bob Lingo who stormed home at 16/1 and made me a very happy girl.

"I love to visit the Elysium day spa to relax and unwind. I also begin to relax as soon as I point the car for Clifden. Although it's only 50 minutes outside Galway, it's like another world. A visit to Mitchell's restaurant is always a must."

Noreen D'Arcy

Owner of D'Arcy Marketing & PR

"The Wednesday of race week is our annual girls' racing day with Mum and my sister. It starts with brunch outside McCambridge's on Shop Street as we breathe in the hussle and bustle.

"I also love visiting O'Grady's on the pier in Barna; right on the water, amazing seafood, wine and, of course, Galway Races craic! Or escape to the Aran Islands for a recovery day.

"I've grown up with the races and July just wouldn't be summer without it. The people, the banter, meeting old friends, the festival buzz it transforms the city.

"I'd usually pick a horse by the jockey's name but I do resort to getting a great tip over the phone from my father, who watches from home."

Roisin Ni Chualain

Actress

Connemara native Roisin (26) is now in her ninth season starring as Lee in 'Ros na Run'. "Galway has a great buzz, day or night. I also love, love, love Roundstone, which is nestled into the Connemara coastline, around 30 minutes from my home in Carna. It has fabulous sandy beaches, beautiful countryside, and is a laid-back, chilled out town.

"When I go into the city, there is nothing I love more than to get a delicious meal in one of Galway's amazing gourmet restaurants. Gemelles on Quay Street is in a great location and has very pocket-friendly early-bird menus. Oscar's bistro on Dominick Street is another one of my favourites.

"If you want a very special treat though, go to Aniar, also on Dominick Street.

"After a meal, my friends and l always go for a few drinks. Taaffe's on Shop Street is a pub that must be visited, but trust me if you are in Galway city you will find yourself in Taaffe's, whether you were looking for it or not. We then go to a late bar. The Front Door, The Quays or Monroe's are a few of my favourites.

"Don't be afraid either to throw out 'cupla focal as Gaeilge' when you are in the city. You may be surprised at the response as most people love the 'Gaeilge' and have a 'blas' for it. So don't be shy. You will have a laugh and it's a great way to get a conversation started."

Slaine Ni Chathallain

TG4 weather presenter

The 25-year-old hails from An Coimin near the village of Baile na nGall in west Kerry. She'll be telling racegoers all they need to know about the weather on her Twitter account @AimsirTG4.

"My favourite place in Galway is Salthill on a sunny day. The place is always buzzing. I'd highly recommend Artisan on Quay Street for dinner, or if you're just in the mood for a snack, the cheese board is fantastic, and combine with a glass of wine by the fire if it's raining.

"I love browsing in McCarthy's Jewellers on Shop Street. It's great for unique, affordable pieces to complement your races attire. The g Hotel for a cocktail is always nice too, especially if you're all dolled up and en route to the races!

"There's so much to do at the races, apart from the race viewing itself. It's a day out in which you can get really dressed up, something Irish people don't do enough of. It need not be costly, it's what you make of it. I highly recommend bringing a lightweight umbrella and some wipes, in case you get soaked or muddy!"

Loretta Ni Ghabhain

Freelance Social Media Manager for TG4, presenter/co-producer of a weekly Arts and Culture guide @ImeachtaiTG4 and is not long back from the Shanghai International Film Festival where she represented the film @MenatLunch

"If you're a foodie like me, we've got it all in Galway. For authentic Spanish tapas head to Lunares, with impromptu Flamenco and Ard Bia at Nimmo's does a great breakfast. My fave is the Hippy Fry which includes, poached eggs, spinach and spiced tomato relish.

"Galway received a sprinkle of gold dust this year with its first Michelin Star for Restaurant Aniar, it's a real treat. For something more casual check out McCambridge's café/restaurant on Shop Street, they have just celebrated their first birthday and do a great coffee.

"To escape the madness, head west for a drive towards Maigh Cuilinn and Loch Corrib, where I live, just 10 miles west of the city and a 15 minute drive. It is the gateway to Connemara."

Emma Eliza Regan

Actress

Galway native Emma Eliza made her debut in the Abbey Theatre at the age of 21 and has since starred in several films, including fantasy flick 'The Shadows', which will be in cinemas later this year. She will also be busy this August filming the lead role in 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'.

"The races have become a tradition, it is a wonderful excuse for all ages to get dressed up in style, meet old friends and make some business deals. As a teenager I worked there every year. It was long hours of tough work but it gave me a strong work ethic and an appreciation for the people working there now.

"I remember I was that girl collecting glasses in the champagne tent. I can still remember the Irish personalities who were rude towards us and those who had good manners. I would have banter with the customers and by the third day I could suss out who knew the score and I'd take my tips from them, usually successfully. I probably earned more money that way than working!

"What I enjoy the most is to get the boat out to the Aran Islands. There is nothing better than hopping off the boat, hiring a bike, exploring the island and going up to Dun Aengus for the day."

Irish Independent

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