On a visit to Galway, gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, last Friday (24 September) there was an air of awakening around. The whirr of wheelie bags was noticeable as students hauling their belongings back to colleges thronged the streets. It was also good to hear foreign accents. Galway has a lot of language schools and they are open again, welcoming students from all over the world.
Buskers played in Quay Street and Shop Street. A group of glamorous wedding revellers filled the King’s Head as they stopped for a quick one on the way to the reception in the Hardiman Hotel.
The pubs and restaurants along the busiest streets were thronged, with plenty of outdoor dining going on. The shops were open and malls were full of shoppers, though like other cities there are empty shop units.
I counted six cranes working away over the city. The Bonham Quay development by Edward Capital is four modern buildings and is well on the way to being finished. Overlooking Galway Harbour, the development will be 34,400 sq. ft of Grade A offices for 2,600 workers. It will be a huge addition to a thriving city.
Work on The Dean Hotel continues and with an opening date in December. It will be the third hotel in the Dean portfolio of the Pressup Group. It is being built near Eyre Square at Propect Hill and Boharmore.
Like The Dean in Dublin and Cork, it will have a Sophie’s Restaurant and rooftop bar. The first Elephant and Castle restaurant outside Dublin will also open in The Dean Galway.
Galway has embraced cycling since the pandemic, and a 3km cycleway between the city centre and Salthill was given the green light by councillors this week.
Like other hotels in Ireland, Galway hotels have had serious makeovers and the quality is outstanding. The 275-bedroom Galmont Hotel and Spa is one of Galway’s biggest hotels and has extensive conference and leisure facilities.
During lockdown, one of the major works undertaken was the construction of a new lift from the two-floor carpark to reception. General Manager Stefan Lundstrom said, “having the extra lift has made a huge difference to the flow of guests around the hotel”.
Another major change at the Galmont was the development of a large outdoor terrace at the first floor overlooking Lough Atalia.
At the Harbour Hotel, manager Ali McHugh oversaw the redevelopment of the ground floor public areas. Dillisk bar and restaurant now includes an outdoor area with a nautical feel, and has proved very popular.
The summer season operation of the new fast ferry Saoirse na Farraige to the Aran Islands was a big success. Due to its popularity, Aran Island Ferries has extended the service until the end of September. The 392-passenger ferry will return to the Galway Harbour to Aran Islands service next spring. The daily services to the islands will continue to operate through the winter and year round from Rossaveal.