Galway European Region of Gastronomy 2018
Galway European Capital of Culture 2020
Located in western Ireland just a two-hour drive from Dublin, Galway is the only city on the Wild Atlantic Way. For many people, Galway is the Gaelic heart of traditional music, dancing, and customs, as well as old pubs, small villages, and wild scenery ending in the cliffs and sea of the Atlantic Ocean. Settled since the 12th century — its name is a corruption of the Gaelic name of Dun Bhun na Gaillimhe — Galway lies on the River Corrib, which flows a short distance between Lough Corrib and the sea, and serves as a gateway to the beautiful areas of the Wild Atlantic Way, Connemara, and the Gaeltacht (where Gaelic is the norm). This is the Ireland of song and warmth, where musical and cultural festivals abound at Galway's MICE venues.
Multinational companies, international associations, and small firms have all chosen Galway as a destination for important business trips and international conferences. High-tech facilities come standard at conference and meeting venues in Galway, whether in the luxury of a historical castle or a modern, purpose-built conference venue. Galway hosts hundreds of conferences and events every year and welcomes many of them back time and time again. The Financial Times named it the best Micro City in Europe in 2017 for its business friendliness and economic potential. Galway is hope to nine of the world's top 10 Medtech companies.
Connemara Airport (NNR) is 15 miles to the west of Galway but only has service to the Aran Islands, so visitors can arrive via Shannon Airport (SNN), which is 90 miles to the south. It has reasonable service to other European countries, as well as direct flights to Boston and New York City and seasonally to Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, and Toronto. Visitors can also fly into Ireland West Airport Knock (NOC), which is the same distance to the northeast and has service to six U.K. cities, as well as some seasonal service to Turkey and several Mediterranean countries.
For larger groups, Galway MICE venues are available in the National University of Ireland Galway Conference & Event Centre, which contains the Bailey Allen Hall for 1,000 people (or 500 for dinners); several meeting rooms, the largest of which hosts up to 100; a sports center; and 15 tiered lecture rooms for up to 360, among other spaces.
Galway MICE hotels include the 261-room Galmont Hotel, which has space for up to 1,000 delegates and is located close to Eyre Square with a short walk to the rail and bus station. The 96-room Harbour Hotel Galway has six meeting rooms and the John B. Keane Suite for up to 150 people, while the Maldron Sandyroad has six state-of-the-art meeting rooms, the largest of which seats up to 130 theater-style. In the Salthill area of the city are the 161-room Salthill Hotel, where event space includes the Rockbarton Suite for 750 people, Aran Suite for 250, and Promenade Suite for 80, among other areas; and the 125-room Ardilaun Hotel, which has five meeting rooms, the Glenarde Suite for 180 people, and the Connacht Suite for 650. There is also the Galway Bay Hotel located right next to the Salthill Hotel, with 115 bedrooms and conference space for up to 600 theater-style or banquet seating for up to 500; it has six conference suites in total. In the business district of Galway, close to the M6 Motorway and Parkwest Business Park, is the Clayton Hotel Galway, which has 195 bedrooms and conference space for up to 600 in a theater setup and 500 in a banquet setup. The Clayton has a total of 11 syndicate suits.
Other sites that host MICE events include Cloonacauneen Castle, a 15th-century Norman castle that is a few miles northeast of Galway and has a function room for up to 200 people, an outdoor area for barbecues of up to 200, a restaurant, and the Tower Room for private dinners of up to 20. Another castle (there are no lack of them hereabouts), Ross Castle, 12 miles to the northwest of Galway, is a superb stately home with landscaped grounds, five guest rooms, private dining rooms for up to 65 people, and the ability to host up to 150. Cloughan Castle in east Galway, 45 minutes from the city center, is available for hire exclusively, with seven bedrooms and banquet space for up to 120 guests or 210 with a marquee extension. Nun's Island Theatre, administered by the Galway Arts Centre and in the center of the city, has an 82-seat theater with stage that can be used for events and meetings. The picturesque Galway Golf Club, which was founded in 1895, can arrange private clubhouse dinners, whiskey tastings, and rounds on its 18-hole course. The Crane Bar, a traditional pub and Irish music venue, has an upstairs performance room where bands and virtuosos play music that can transport.
Restaurants in Galway able to host groups include casual Kirwan's, a seafood restaurant with wonderful dishes and a private dining area on the second floor for up to 50 people, and the Brasserie on the Corner, an award-winning restaurant that can accommodate groups of up to 50 and offers locally sourced fish, plus steaks and deli boards, in a chic, exposed-brick and dark wood setting in the heart of Galway city. Enda McEvoy, the chef responsible for putting Galway on the international dining map, finally opened a modern casual and fine-dining hybrid called Laom. The restaurant, which captures a little bit of the magic of western Ireland, is perfect to add as a dine-around option for your group. The riverside Ard Bia at Nimmos features a traditional fine-dining menu in a traditional building. In the Salthill area are the Galleon Restaurant, another fine-dining establishment with room for private parties of up to 30 people, and The Fisherman, which has a formal and communal atmosphere and serves fish n' chips done right by a family that has been fishing local waters for more than 40 years.