In the Irish county of Connacht, Galway for many people is the Gaelic heart of traditional music, dancing, and customs; and 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, on the River Corrib that flows a short distance between Lough Corrib and the sea, is 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, and to which Galway MICE venues play host.
Connemara Airport (NNR) is 15 miles to the west of Galway but only has service to the Aran Islands, so visitors mostly will come via Shannon Airport (SNN), 90 miles to the south, which has reasonable service to other European countries (low-fare carrier Ryanair is its largest client) as well as to Boston, New York City and, seasonally, Chicago, Newark and Philadelphia, or via Ireland West Airport Knock (NOC), which is the same distance but to the northeast and has service to six UK cities, as well as some seasonal service to Turkey and several Mediterranean countries.
For larger groups, Galway MICE venues tend to gather in the National University of Ireland Galway Conference & Event Centre, which contains the Bailey Allen Hall for 1,000 persons 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 Radisson Hotel & Spa Galway, which has space for up to 1,000 delegates; the 96-room Harbour Hotel Galway, which has six meeting rooms and the John B. Keane Suite for up to 150 persons; and the 70-room Menlo Park Hotel, which has five meeting rooms for up to 350 persons and a private dining room for 150. In the Salthill area of the city are the 161-room Salthill Hotel, where event space includes the Rockbarton Suite for 750 persons, Aran Suite for 250 and Promenade Suite for 80, among other area; and the 125-room Ardilaun Hotel, which has five meeting rooms, Glenarde Suite for 180 persons, and Connacht Suite for 650.
Sites are to host MICE events in Galway include Cloonacauneen Castle, a 15th-century Norman castle, a few miles northeast of Galway, that has a function room for up to 200 persons, an outdoor area for barbecues that can hold the same number, a restaurant, and the Tower Room for private dinners of up to 20. Another castle (there are no lack of them hereabouts), Ross Castle, which is 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 persons and capability of hosting up to 150. 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. Lastly, 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 a music that can transport.
Restaurants in Galway able to host groups include casual Kirwan's, a seafood restaurant with wonderfully turned out dishes and a private dining area on the second floor for up to 50 persons; riverside Ard Bia at Nimmos, with a traditional, fine-dining menu in a traditional building, and—another fine-dining spot featuring local seafood—The Malt House. In the Salthill area are the Galleon Restaurant, another fine-dining establishment and with room for private parties of up to 30 persons, and, for fish n' chips done right from a family that has been fishing local waters for more than 40 years, The Fisherman, with a formal and communal atmosphere.