One of the stereotypes people associate with the Irish, besides being known for their brilliant drinking habits, is good old Irish hospitality. Throughout my time travelling around Ireland, it has become more and more obvious that the Irish really are a friendly group of people.
This weekend, I took a trip to Galway with a few friends to experience the cultural heart of Ireland. Galway is the smallest city in Ireland, but it is a vibrant one.
Musicians lined Shoppe Street, leading through the center of the city, and smells from the farmer’s market that takes place every Saturday filled the air as we walked Galway’s cobblestoned streets.
The market was huge, taking up a large area on Church Lane right beside St. Nicholas Church, and sold everything from freshly baked breads and pastries, to crepes, produce, cheeses, clothing and art.
All of the vendors were extremely friendly and would talk your ear off for as long as you let them about both their products and life in general.
We stopped at one produce stand because of the curious green drink the man was selling. The girl who was buying the drink said she was from Canada and had been in Ireland for eight months, and she returns every Saturday to this produce man’s stand for a wheatgrass shot.
It is obvious from their easy-going conversation that they had formed quite a friendly relationship from their weekly meets on Saturday morning; something that is not difficult to do with the locals here in Ireland.
After talking to us for a while about his stand and the health benefits of his wheatgrass shots, he convinced us to try one for two euro. They tasted exactly as they smelled and turned our mouths green, but it was worth it for the great conversation we had with Mr. Produce Man.
The rest of Galway was just as friendly and charming. Later that evening, the three of us went to The Kings Head for dinner, Ireland’s second oldest pub, and true to form, the Irish hospitality charmed us yet again.
Our server, Kevin, was very chatty with us and told us all about his time spent in America. Being from Cork himself, he told us all the lesser known places that we had to go to while we were studying in Cork at UCC. Kevin gave us his number and told us to give him a ring when he got off at eight and he promised to show us to Galway’s best bars for traditional Irish music.
Before moving on from The Kings Head, we sat by the fire and had a few pints. Kevin got off early and came over to join us for a pint and told us about the history of The Kings Head and how it got its name.
He then took us to a different little pub, called the Front Door, where we talked about the differences between American and Irish culture and what he thought about living in America. We talked about the differences in food preference; the Irish love their dairy products and tend to eat butter on everything. Needless to say, he was very disappointed with the quality of American butter. We also talked about the American obsession with accents and how women at the bars in New York City absolutely loved to talk to him.
After the Front Door, we headed to a pub that is known for its Traditional Music, Taaffes. The pub was packed with people eager to hear the music, but it was well worth it.
As we left the pub and headed back to our hostel, Kevin continued to show his Irish hospitality and promised to show us around Galway the next day before we left for Cork.
Kevin kept his promise and met us at noon the following day and showed us around some of Galway’s popular places.
As we were heading to the bus station, Kevin promised to contact us when he was visiting home in Cork and show us around to his favorite places.
Our trip to Galway once again proved that, all over Ireland, the warm welcome that the Irish give never ceases to amaze me.