Historic Buildings & Structures

VisitGalway - Spanish Arch

Spanish Arch 

The Spanish Arch are two remaining arches which were part of the extension of the city wall, constructed during the mayoralty of Wylliam Martin in 1584, as a measure to protect the city’s quays, which were once known as the Fish Market area. In the 18th century the Eyre family of Eyrecourt, County Galway, created an extension of the quays called The Long Walk and created the arches to allow access from the town to the new quays. The designation “Spanish” is not historical to this period and was likely known as the Eyre Arch when built. The Spanish Arch is, in fact, a misnomer, as there is no proven association between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the Arch.

VisitGalway - Wolfe Tone Bridge

Wolfe Tone Bridge 

Wolfe Tone Bridge is named after an Irish revolutionary, Theobald Wolfe Tone (1663-1798). Wolfe Tone was called to the bar in 1789 but turned his attention to politics whom, inspired by the example of the French Revolution, helped found the United Irish Society which worked to unite Roman Catholics and Protestants in a common cause against English oppression of Ireland.

VisitGalway - Salmon Weir Bridge

Salmon Weir Bridge 

Built in 1818 , the salmon weir bridge is the oldest surviving bridge over the River Corrib. The original purpose of the structure was to link the county courthouse with the county gaol on Nun’s Island, the latter having stood where Galway Cathedral now stands. It was also to provide a connection with the main road to Connemara. Between April and July the bridge offers a great viewing point to watch the silvery salmon below, fight their way upstream, back to their traditional spawning grounds on Lough Corrib.

VisitGalway - NUIG

National University of Ireland, Galway 

NUI Galway was founded in 1845 and, back then, had been known as the Queen’s College, Galway. The university is ranked among the top 2 per cent of universities in the world. Alumni of the university include the Taoiseach and President of Ireland, Enda Kenny and Michael D. Higgins respectively, as well as numerous other prominent politicians. The oldest part of the university, the Quadrangle building with its Aula Maxima was designed by John Benjamin Keane. Nelson Mandela made a memorable appearance at the University in 2003. On what was his last visit to Ireland, Mandela condemned U.S. foreign policy and received an honorary doctorate from NUI Chancellor Garret FitzGerald.

VisitGalway - Nimmo's Pier

Nimmo’s Pier  

Designed by Alexander Nimmo, a Scottish Engineer, this impressive pier has well executed coursed battered limestone walls and is an engineering structure of outstanding quality. The retention of original features, including a wide range of mooring bollards and the interesting concave face to the south, add further interest. Nimmo, who spent most of his working life in Galway was responsible for building of government funded roads and piers throughout Galway and many other parts of the west of Ireland, with complete power and autonomy to decide where roads went and where piers were built. In addition, the pier is considered as one of the best birding sites in County Galway.

VisitGalway - Eyre Square

Eyre Square

Eyre Square, also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, is a popular public park in the heart of Galway city. The origin of the square comes from medieval open space in front of a town gate, known as the Green. Markets mostly took place in the northern part of the space. The plot of land that became Eyre Square was officially presented to the city in 1710 by Mayor Edward Eyre, from whom it took its name. However, in 1801, Eyre Square became known as Meyrick Square after General Meyrick erected a stone wall around the square. Then in 1965, the square was officially renamed “John F. Kennedy Memorial Park” in honour of U.S. President John F. Kennedy whom made a speech in the square on 29 June 1963, the first U.S. president to do so during his term of office.

VisitGalway - Castlehacket House

Castlehacket House 

Castlehacket is a 13th-century tower house at the base of Knockma hill. It was built by the Hacketts, a Norman family. The Kirwans, one of the tribes of Galway, settled there in the 15th century. The Castlehacket branch of the family was established in the mid-17th century by Sir John Kirwan. The castle was abandoned in the 18th century and the Kirwans built a new three-story house called Castlehacket which was burned in 1923 during the Civil War but rebuilt and still stands today. Unfortunately, Castlehackett House is not open to the public.

VisitGalway - Tyrone House

Tyrone House 

Tyrone House in County Galway is a ruined manor house, built in the 1770s for Christopher St. George, who was part of an old Co. Galway family with Norman Irish roots. The house was set a light and was destroyed by the local Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit during the Irish War of Independence. Rumour had it that it was going to be used by the Black and Tans as an infirmary. Tyrone House was uninhabited at the time.

VisitGalway - Nora Barnacles House

Nora Barnacles House 

The Nora Barnacle House was built in the 1800s. It is the smallest house on the street and its accommodation consists of two rooms and a tiny back yard. It was home to the famous writer James Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle. At the turn of the century Nora lived here with her mother and six younger Barnacle children, until she left Galway in 1904 for Dublin. James Joyce first met his mother-in-law Annie Barnacle in the small kitchen of the house when he and his son Giorgio visited in 1909. Nora, accompanied by Giorgio and Lucia, paid her final visit in 1922. Annie Barnacle continued to live here until her death in 1940.

VisitGalway - Dalyston House

Dalyston House 

This former walled garden serves as a reminder of the once prominent Dalyton (or Dalystown) house and demesne. Unfortunately the house is no longer in existence. However the walls form an imposing edge to the road externally, while internally the red brick skin would have had a practical purpose, as heat retained during the day would have been released at night, allowing the cultivation of fruits not normally suited to the Irish climate within the walled garden.

VisitGalway - MV Plassy

MV Plassy 

The MV Plassy, or Plassey as it was otherwise known, was originally a steam trawler launched in late 1940 but converted to a cargo vessel in 1947. The ship was acquired by the Limerick Steamship Company in 1951 and named Plassey. While sailing through Galway Bay, on 8th March 1960, carrying a cargo of whiskey, stained glass and yarn, the ship was caught in a severe storm and ran onto Finnis Rock, on Inisheer Island. Local Islanders rescued the entire crew using breeches buoy. Several weeks later, a second storm washed the ship off the rock and drove it on to the shoreline of the island where the wreck still lies today.

VisitGalway - Portumna Union Workhouse

Portumna Union Workhouse 

The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, one of the best preserved workhouses in the country, is the only centre in Ireland dedicated to telling the story of the Irish Workhouse. The Irish Workhouse was the last resort of the destitute poor from the early 1840s to the early 1920s. The basic idea of the Workhouse System was that families in dire poverty could enter the workhouse and work for food, thus avoiding death from starvation. 163 workhouses were built in Ireland from 1840 to 1858. This was the single biggest building project undertaken in Ireland ever. The workhouse system was an English solution to an Irish problem. It failed.

VisitGalway - Creevaghbaun Sweat House

Creevaghbaun Sweat House 

The sweat house at Creevaghbaun consists of a diminutive, well-built structure that is known locally as a ‘teach allais’ or sweat house and is probably the finest example in the country. The origins of Irish sweat houses remains obscure but it appears they were used since at least the 18th century to relieve a number of ailments most notably rheumatism. They were typically simple structures, normally consisting of bee-hive shaped stone huts with corbelled roofs and small ‘creep’ entrances. Sods of turf were often added to the roofs for added insulation. Before use a large fire was lit in the centre of the house and allowed to burn for several hours. When the temperature was deemed sufficiently high the fire was then removed and the person or persons crawled in and sat on rushes or straw. They then waited in the hot chamber until a sufficient amount of sweating had occurred. After this they clambered out and plunged themselves into cold water. For this reason sweat houses were often located beside streams, lakes or artificial plunge pools/wells.

VisitGalway - The Marconi Station

The Marconi Station

Guglielmo Marconi caused a communications sensation when he transmitted wireless messages from his station at Poldhu in Cornwall to Newfoundland on 12th December 1901. After receiving a grant of $80,000 from the Canadian Government to build a station at Glace Bay in Nova Scotia to transmit wireless communication with Poldhu, he experienced extreme difficulty in providing commercially viable communications and decided to move his easterly station as far west as possible and decided on Derrigimlagh, just outside Clifden. The station was officially opened on the 17th October 1907, when commercial signalling commenced between Clifden and Glace Bay. Technological advances were made in the later years and soon a more powerful station was built at Caernarfon in North Wales. In addition, the Clifden station was attacked by republican forces in July 1922 and some buildings were damaged. The Marconi Company sought compensation from the new Free State government, but this did not materialise. The station was closed shortly after and remains sold as scrap.

VisitGalway - Maumeen

Maumeen

Maumeen is a mountain pass in Connemara, that links the Maum and Inagh Valleys through the Maumturk mountains. The name comes from the Irish “Maum na Ean” which literally means “Pass of the Birds”. Two thousand years ago Maumeen was an important Celtic shrine. The site was then claimed by the early Christian church who turned it into a shrine dedicated to Saint Patrick. During the 17th and 18th Centuries the “Penal Laws” outlawed the Catholic church. During this period Maumeen was used as a type of clandestine outdoor church known as a “mass rock”. After the repeal of the Penal Laws in the mid-19th Century, Maumeen returned to being the destination of an annual pilgrimage however, in the early years of the 20th Century, the Catholic church withdrew its support of the pilgrimage due to its reputation for partying rather than for piety. In the last thirty years the tradition of a pilgrimage was re-established. Where once there was the outdoor mass rock, a small chapel called “CiIIin Phédraig”, dedicated to St. Patrick, has now been built.

VisitGalway - Old Carrowmore Race Course

Old Carrowmore Race Course 

All that remains of Carrowmore Race Course is this curious grandstand. The grandstand would have been roofed to create an outbuilding where once there would have been terraced seating for spectators of the races. The segmental-headed openings to the ground floor are indicative of its previous high status. Unfortunately we are still working on the exact location of this building.

VisitGalway - Inisheer Signal Tower

Inisheer Signal Tower 

Erected in 1804, the signal tower was part of an extensive network of military fortifications along the Atlantic seaboard, which were designed to repulse the threat of any potential French invasion by Napoleon, of Ireland, which was then a British colony.

VisitGalway - Dún Árann Signal Tower

Dún Árann Signal Tower 

Built in 1804, this substantial complex was constructed as part of an extended network of fortifications by the British government along the Atlantic seaboard of Ireland, of which was a British colony at the time. Now disused, the fortification, consisting of a signal tower, would have been used as early warning to the British government should there have been a French invasion on Ireland which was threatened by Napoleon.

VisitGalway - Woodford Stone Weir

Woodford Stone Weir 

Built  in 1800 century and restored in 1980, this rubble stone weir would have been formerly used to generate energy for street lighting for the town but more importantly for the now disused corn mill. The weir also would have played a pivotal role in the creation of ‘Woodford Bay’, the large dammed pond just a few metres away.

VisitGalway - Portumna Water Crane

Portumna Water Crane

Erected in 1850, this cast iron water crane would have been used for the loading and unloading of goods from vessels in the nineteenth century. The crane would have been deemed of modest scale but nonetheless is of great industrial and technical significance which attests to Portumna’s importance as a goods depot in times gone by.

VisitGalway - The Kelp House

The Kelp House 

Built around 1800, this now vacant boathouse was formerly used to store kelp, a type of large seaweed. The boathouse is associated with Captain T. Hazell of Doon House and is now acts as a strong reminder of the former importance of maritime activities in the locality.

VisitGalway - Ross Castle Boathouse

Ross Castle Boathouse 

Built in 1860, this partially submerged boathouse is an interesting association to Ross Castle. The boathouse continues to house boats for the use of the current and previous owners and guests of the castle in order to take advantage of Ross Lake for fishing and leisure activities.

VisitGalway - Salthill Bandstand

Salthill Bandstand

This cast iron bandstand was erected in 1880. It provides a picturesque feature to the public park in Salthill and a relaxing recreational function to the public.

VisitGalway - NUIG Dovecote

NUIG Dovecote 

This freestanding dovecote was built in 1800 and is now disused. This type of structure is fairly rare in Ireland and makes a fine and unusual contribution to the architectural heritage of the surrounding area. Often built as symbols of high status, this structure is a reminder of Belmont, a country house which is now demolished.

VisitGalway - Oughterard Dovecote

Oughterard Dovecote 

Dovecotes tend to be very rare structures throughout Ireland, and this one in Oughterard is a fine example of one. Its hexagonal form is unusual and the stonework is well built. The nesting boxes have also survived the test of time and are intact.

VisitGalway - Curraghmore Sheep Dip

Curraghmore Sheep Dip 

Sited on the shore of Lough Corrib, this sheep dip is an unusual feature that has stood the test of time. It is believe that the sheep dip dates back to 1875. It would have been used to drive sheep through water with purifiers put through it in order to cleanse the sheep of parasites and to preserve their wool. Unfortunately, the exact location is unknown but we are working on it!

VisitGalway - Inisheer Lighthouse

Inisheer Lighthouse

Inisheer Lighthouse was completed in 1857 after it was argued that the Inishmore lighthouse was too high and it did not cover the entrances to the North or South Sounds of the Islands. The lighthouse originally had a fixed optic lamp which was supplied by the Chance Brothers of Birmingham. In 1913, the light was then converted to an incandescent with a paraffin vapour burner with a sequence change from fixed to occulting i.e. 10 seconds of light, 10 seconds of darkness (now called isophase). The light was once more converted to an automated unwatched electric light with three diesel generator sets and a backup battery in case of complete electric breakdown.

VisitGalway - Cnoc Suain

Cnoc Suain

Cnoc Suain is an eco/cultural hill village of thatched stone cottages which date back to 1691. It provides a unique cultural experience to visitors and provides insights into the lives of rural Irish people in times gone by.

VisitGalway - Inchagoill Island

Inchagoill Island 

Inchagoill Island is the most famous of all the 365 islands on Lough Corrib. The name Inchagoill comes from 3 Irish words “Inis An Ghaill” meaning the Island of the stranger. The island is home to a number of ancient monastic ruins, some dating back to the 5th Century. The island is now state owned but was once owned by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness as part of the Ashford Castle estate in 1852. At that time there were four families living on the Island and these families were tenants on this estate. By about 1935 there was only one inhabitant on the Island, a man called Thomas Nevin. Today, visitors and locals can visit the island during the summer months by taking Corrib Cruises or by hiring a local boat.

VisitGalway - Kilcornan House

Kilcornan House 

Kilcornan was originally a 16th century castle of Ulick de Burgo. The Redingtons of Kilcornan later built a fine mansion, incorporating the old tower in it’s fabric in the 1830’s. The Redington family were the local benevolent landlords, were responsible for the development and design of the village which has an imposing cenotaph to Thomas N. Redington on the village green. The house now serves as a training centre for people with learning disabilities.

VisitGalway - Turmartin Round Tower

Turmartin Round Tower 

Sometimes referred to as a round tower, this small ruin on a hillside at the eastern most point of Inis Mór is in face a dry-stone tower of very loose construction, standing on bare rock. Its purpose is obscure and unknown. It could possibly have been used as a marker for boats at sea or others have stated that it’s to mark St. Gregory’s grave (but solid rock underneath and no other monastic features elsewhere would suggest otherwise).

VisitGalway - Clochán na Carraige

Clochán na Carraige

Clochán na Carraige is one of the best examples of an old dry stone beehive hut in Ireland. The hut dates from the early christian period. The hut takes an oval shape on the outside, and has a corbelled roof giving it a beehive look. Over time the hut would have been used as a place of dwelling and to keep animals.

VisitGalway - St. MacDara’s Island Monastery

St. MacDara’s Island Monastery 

St. Macdara, was a christian saint who lived off the western coast of Ireland on a remote island (St. Macdara’s Island) over 1,500 years ago. It is believed Macdara founded this beautiful monastery which is a one-room, dirt floor, stone walled chapel. The stone church is so small it presumed that it must have been used as a tomb shrine for Macdara. After restoration work in 1975, it is today considered one of the finest early Christian oratories in Ireland.

VisitGalway - Doon Hill WWII Lookout Tower

Doon Hill WWII Lookout Tower 

During World War II, Doon Hill was used as a lookout point and had a gun battery atop the hill with fear that the German’s may use Ireland as a base to attach the British. There is now just an automated Cost Guard becon atop of the hill.

VisitGalway - Old Tuam Railway Station

Old Tuam Railway Station 

Tuam railway station is a disused railway station associated with the town of Tuam. Opened in 1860 as part of the Waterford, Limerick and Western Railway route between Limerick and Sligo, the station was a major stop on the section between Athenry and Claremorris and was the only station on this section which consisted of two platforms and a passing loop. The station serviced passenger and freight trains, with Tuam also featuring an extensive goods yard and locomotive facilities. The station was closed, along with the whole route to passenger trains, in 1976 during Córas Iompair Éireann’s rationalisation of the rail network. After its closure to passenger trains, the goods facilities at Tuam continued to be heavily used until 1993, when Tuam station was closed as a block post.

VisitGalway - Teach Synge

Teach Synge 

Located on the island of Inishmaan of the Aran Islands, Teach Synge is a beautiful 300 years old cottage. The cottage is now a museum that has been refurbished to revive its past glory and is dedicated to John Millington Synge, the celebrated playwright, who visited the house for the first time in 1898. J.M Synge is most famous for his works of ‘Riders to the Sea’ (1904) which has been hailed by many to be the finest one act tragedy of the 20th century, and his master drama ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ (1907). The museum includes famous works of the playwright along with photographs, letters and drawings and other memorabilia of Lady Gregory and W.B. Yeats.

VisitGalway - Pigeon Hole Cave

Pigeon Hole Cave

The Pigeon Hole or ‘Poll na gColum’, is a cave located between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask just outside of Cong. A steep flight of limestone steps leads down to the mysterious mouth of the cave, opening up a large chasm to those who dare with a stream flowing from the nearby loughs. The cave is covered in bushes and ivy and pigeons use the cave to nest hence its name. In Irish folklore, stories told are that the cave is said to be home to a sacred trout, “the fairy trout,” which, according to legend, avoided bait and evaded capture. When eventually captured and cut to be eaten, the fish turned into a beautiful young woman. The woman demanded that her capture renounce his evil courses and take her back to the river. The woman then disappeared and a small white trout laid in front of the man. The man quickly rushed to the cave to put the trout back into the river. When he did, the river turned blood red momentarily. It is believed, to this day that one can find a white trout, with a little scar where it was cut, swimming in the sunny part of the river.

VisitGalway - Hall of the Red Earl

Hall of the Red Earl

The Hall of the Red Earl is a fascinating medieval archaeological site which dates to the 13th century and is linked to the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family. The hall, in essence was a tax office and was Galway’s first municipal building. It was used to collect taxes, dispense justice and used to host banquets. In the late 15th century, the Tribe families of Galway seized power from the De Burgos and forced them out of the city. The hall subsequently became abandoned and fell into ruin. Over the intervening centuries, the ruins were covered over and further built upon. In 1997 archaeologists unearthed the remaining ruins of the site with over 11,000 artefacts being uncovered.

VisitGalway - Ballyglunin Railway Station

Ballyglunin Railway Station 

Ballyglunin railway station is a disused railway station close to the village of Ballyglunin. Opened in 1860 as part of the Waterford, Limerick and Western Railway route between Limerick and Sligo, the stations passenger train service later ceased in 1976 as part of the rationalisation of the rail network by Córas Iompair Éireann. The station has a claim to fame when it was used during the filming of the film ‘The Quiet Man’ starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in 1952.

VisitGalway - Synge’s Chair

Synge’s Chair 

Synge’s Chair is a lookout at the edge of a sheer limestone cliff on the western edge of the island. The cliff ledge is often sheltered from the wind making the chair a perfect spot for a comfortable seat for Synge.

VisitGalway - Molloy Cottage

Molloy Cottage

Michael Joseph Molloy or ‘M.J. Molloy’ was a famous international dramatist and playwright. Born in Milltown on the 3rd March 1914, Molloy attended St Jarlath’s college, Tuam for his education and later attended the Columban seminary at Dalgin Park in Shrule to study for the priesthood. Unfortunately his plans to join the priesthood were scuppered when he contracted tuberculosis and he had to abandon his studies. During his time in Dublin, his regular visits to the Abbey Theatre sparked his interest and love for theatre. He returned to Milltown and began writing. His first play, Old Road was produced in The Abbey Theatre in 1943. His plays were based on his own experiences of rural life, visiting houses and his love of folklore. Molloy further wrote many notable plays to include; The Visiting House, The King of Friday’s Men, The Wood of the Whispering, The Paddy Pedlar, Daughter from over the Water and The Bachelor’s Daughter. Molloy died in 1994 aged 80 years.

VisitGalway - Blackrock Diving Tower

Blackrock Diving Tower

Blackrock Diving Tower is an iconic structure of the Salthill promenade and is a ‘must do’ for most visitors to Galway. In 1885, a springboard was erected at Col O’Hara’s property much to his displease. He did everything he could to make it difficult for swimmers to get to the rock. Eventually, he had the board removed but the Urban Council stepped in and managed to get a lease on a public right of way to the bathing area. The original springboard was replaced by a more elaborate affair for swimming and diving, which however was quite unsafe. After a near death of a diver in 1942, the diving boards were replaced by the diving tower that we see today at Blackrock. For a long time, Blackrock was a ‘men only’ bathing place. In the very early seventies, the ladies began to swim at Blackrock, and it has been a ‘mixed bathing’ place since.

VisitGalway - Lisdonagh House

Lisdonagh House

Lisdonagh House is an early Georgian Country Manor built around the 1720’s by the Reddingtons for the St. George family who were prominent Landlords in Galway. The house has commanding views over Lough Hackett, a private Lake which forms part of the Estate, and Knochma hill. The private manor house is now available for exclusive hire for accommodation or events under it’s current owners.

VisitGalway - Lynch Memorial Window

Lynch Memorial Window

The Lynch Windown Memorial, is on of the great stories of Galway. In 1493, it is said that the son of James Lynch FitzStephen, the mayor and magistrate of Galway, confessed to have murdered a Spanish merchant sailor who was a rival romance to his girlfriend. However, when no one could be found to carry out the execution, Judge Lynch hanged (or lynched as the practice became known around the world after this event) his son himself, ensuring that justice prevailed, before retiring into seclusion. The window where the deed allegedly took place adjoins the graveyard of the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas of Myra and is a memorial window of the event which took place.

  • Every effort has been taken by VisitGalway to ensure that the information and the location of each attraction provided is accurate. On occasions, locations provided for attractions may be an approximate location rather than an exact location. In addition, some attractions may not be accessible to the public due to being located on private property or otherwise. If you are attraction seeking, please adhere to all signs and laws at all times. Talk to the local landowners for potential permission to access the attraction.