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Interport Student Offers an Insider's Guide to Galway

Sarah Cosgrove took part in lectures and classes to help students better understand Galway.


Sarah Cosgrove is a PhD student from The Ryan Institute at the National University of Ireland studying marine biology. She’s currently traveling on board the MV Explorer to help the Fall 2012 voyage learn more about her hometown of Galway, Ireland. We sat down with Sarah for a few minutes, where she gave us her insider’s guide to Galway.

Here are some of Sarah’s insider tips to exploring Galway, Ireland:

Q: If You’re Pressed for Time, What’s the Best Way to Spend a Day in Galway?

“If you‚Äôre short on time, walk around the city center. The city is really small, it‚Äôs an old medieval town and there are cobblestone streets and everything is centered around the main square. Sit inside a bar, have a coffee, or sit out in the street and socialize. Everyone sits out in the streets in Galway. There‚Äôs also a promenade that connects with the city and at the end of the promenade is ‚ÄúBlack Rock,‚Äù where there are diving boards that you can dive off of into the ocean. It‚Äôs free, but mainly reserved for the brave.”

Q: What Should You Know Before Visiting Galway?

“Know that it‚Äôs a very, very friendly place. You don‚Äôt have to feel anxious about visiting and there are lots of tourists so you won‚Äôt stick out. The prices of food and drink won‚Äôt be much different than the U.S., but Galway has a really nice selection of restaurants‚Äîyou can find Irish, Indian, Thai, and more.”

Q: What are some of Galway’s Must-Try Foods?

“At the minute, everyone is fishing for mackerel. They‚Äôre only around for three weeks out of the year so it‚Äôs a rare dish. If you see a restaurant serving mackerel, definitely stop and try it. If not, try the mussels, they‚Äôre usually served with a white wine and garlic sauce and are really good. There‚Äôs also traditional Irish food, like bacon and cabbage and shepherd‚Äôs pie.”

Q: Where are the Best Markets in Galway?

“There‚Äôs a market on Saturday morning from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., it‚Äôs set off of Shop Street, the main street in town. It‚Äôs very unique, and if you‚Äôre looking for the types of souvenirs and gifts that you won‚Äôt find at the tourists shops, this is the place to go.”

Q: Why Do They Say the Irish are Lucky?

“Ha! I think it has something to do with how, years ago, it was very common to find a four-leaf clover in Ireland as opposed to other places. It might also have something to do with the image of leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You do still find people in Ireland who still believe in leprechauns.”

Q: What Other Beliefs do the Irish Have?

“A large population of Ireland still believes in fairies. You see fairy forts, large natural mounds on the ground, and some people will bring gifts or food to the fairies. Contractors and builders will never knock these forts down because they‚Äôre believed to be sacred. The older generations, and the people who live in the hills and in the country, really believe in them.”

Q: What’s the Most Common Language Spoken in Galway?

“Galway is quite a popular area for Gaelic and in fact, our university is deemed bi-lingual. In general, people stop speaking Irish after they leave school. I never spoke it past school and it‚Äôs only now that I start to regret that because it‚Äôs your native language at the end of the day. There is a big push to try and increase speaking Irish, and there are subsidies for school if you study in Irish.”

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