Living in Galway

Congratulations on moving to Galway!   Whether you're here for work or study, this is a fantastic city to live in.

This is a summary of the basic what / where / when / how of living in Galway City - the kind of things that locals just know and new-comers need to find out.  

It has been updated in August 2020, to take account of changes following Covid-19 - and it will likely updated a few more times this year as the public health situation changes.





Where to live


The golden rule in Galway is:
live on the same side of the river that you are working or studying.

This is because there are only a few bridges and at peak times traffic can be particularly bad.   Following the Covid-19 closedown, traffic reduced a lot, and now (August-2020) it's nowhere near pre-pandemic levels.   However this may change as workplaces, schools and colleges re-open - possibly it may end up even worse that before.

Of course the best location depends on your interests and lifestyle as well:  if you want to go swimming in the sea every day, then somewhere near Salthill would fit the bill.   Hill-walking in Connemara every weekend?   Definitely live in the west of the city, possibly even out towards Moycullen.  If you're regularly travelling to Dublin / Cork / etc - then either the city centre (close to the bus / train stations), or out toward Doughiska / Roscam / Oranmore (if you'll be driving ).    If you're in Galway for the social life, then living on any of the city bus routes means that you can get into the centre easily enough, and are within a reasonable-enough taxi-fare home.


Finding accommodation 

Good sources of information about places to live are:
  • The Galway Advertiser classified pages.   The local newspaper still holds first place in this category.  Their classified ads can all be viewed on-line, and re updated all the time.  But there are more (in some categories) when the comes out on Thursday.
  • DAFT.ie - originally the Dublin Accommodation Finder Terminal, this now the website for finding accommodation in Ireland


Getting around

Like many European cities, Galway isn't laid out on a grid: main roads curve, and you can be surprised what places are very close together This map of Galway city suburbs might help you to figure out how the place is put together.

You'll hear good and bad things about Galway's bus-service - but it's at least good-enough for living, working and playing in most parts of the city.   Officially, right now (mid-August 2020) public transport is only for necessary journeys (whatever that means) - but no one is checking.

www.a-b.ie 
 - is the Irish government's official public transport information website

GalwayTransport.info - was put together before the government website existed.  It has a wealth of information (eg maps of industrial estates, suburbs, supermarkets, back-packer hostels), as well as pages about city and regional buses, and all sorts of other gems.

Bicycles are increasingly popular.  The the main hire company is BikeShare aka Coke Zero Bikes who have stands around the central city and are slowly being extended to the city.   Galway Cycling Campaign is a local group which lobbies for better cycling facilities and organises various cycling-related activities.

GoCar is a car-sharing scheme which started in Cork and is now nationwide.   They have cars (and the occasional van) based around the city, and members can hire these in 15 minute intervals.   All bookings and collections/dropoffs are done through their app, so you can book at very short notice.


Entertainment

To say that Galway is known for its social life is just a tiny bit of an understatement.

Of course the Covid-19 response has made things a lot quieter.   But it's still possible to have a lot of fun here, in a safe, socially distant way.

Check the Galway Advertiser (published every Thursday, on-line edition available free if you sign up, printed copies available for pickup in convenience shops around town and delivered to many suburbs) for up to date event listings and information.

Festivals are big.   You may have heard about the Galway Arts Festival and the Galway Races - but until now there's been at least one festival for most other weeks of the year too.   This independent festival listing tells you about what happened pre-Covid.  We're still waiting to find out whether most festivals go on-line /outside/socially-distant, or whether they take a holiday.

The pubs are legendary, too.   Or at leas they were, pre Covid-19.   Galway City Pub Guide is the definitive guide to pubs, bars, nightclubs and winebars - as they were.    Right now, pubs and clubs aren't allowed to open.   Restaurants are - and many have.    And many places which you'd have called a "pub" have found a kitchen, or a neighbouring pizza-place, and turned into a "restaurant".  The Open in Galway website has a list of open pubs in Galway city:  it is being kept up to date, but is short on detail of the style of each one.


Recreation

Galway has about 80,000,000 residents - this changes all time time as students come and go.  But for a city of this size, there are an amazing range of sporting, artistic and cultural activities:

Google  "<<activity-name>>   Galway" for info about local clubs, venues, etc. - there's one for almost every sport you can imagine.



See this list of things to do in Galway for lots of one-off activity suggestions.

If you can't find what you're looking for, try looking or asking in:


Study

If you've moved here to study, then most likely you're already to be enrolled in one of the tertiary institutions.   But if you're here to work, then it might be helpful to know what the options are - this city is big on learning as well as playing.  

The two main third-level institutions are
  • NUIG - National University of Ireland, Galway
  • GMIT - the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

There are a number of places which offer evening or weekend courses, as well as some full-time day courses at various levels:

There are many other subject-specific course providers too - far too many to list here.  



Work

Work - the curse of the drinking classes!    But most of us need to do as least some to it to fund the Galway lifestyle.   

As well as the usual job-searching websites and approaches, Galway has
  • Galway Job Connector - a website / Facebook page which shares information about local employment and economic news - especially good for professional / career jobs.
  • Galway Staff Wanted - which focuses on jobs that are or migh be advertised in local shop windows and lately Facebook pages   (and where this "Living in Galway" guide came from)



Money

All major banks have branches in Galway city.  Most are located around Eyre Square.   Google to find their addresses.   

ATMs / cash-machines are available through the city-centre, and in many suburban areas too.

There are two main credit unions:
  • St Anthony's and Claddagh - for people who live or work in the city-centre and west of the city
  • St Columba's - for people who live or work in the west of the city


Post office: 
  • The general post-office is in Eglinton Street.  
  • There are branches in many older suburbs (Claddagh, Mervue, Renmore, Salthill, Newcastle, Barna, Oranmore).
  • The parcel delivery centre is on the Tuam Road, quite a way from the city centre - there is information about getting to it here.




Hospitals / health services

Primary health care

If you are a student, you may have access to health-services through your college.

In Ireland General Practitioners (GPs) are doctors who specialise in first-level medical care.   Being referred by a GP is the main way that you can get more advanced medical care from a specialist doctor  in a hospital.   Some GPs work alone, while others work in groups in a Medical Centre.

If you plan to live in Galway for long, you should register with a local General Practitioner (GP).    It's easier to do this before you get sick, than trying find a practise which will accept you at short notice.

If you have a medical-card and have moved to Galway from another part of Ireland, then you need to find a local GP or medical centre who is accepting new patients, and register with them.

If you aren't staying for long, or are not registered with a practise, and need to see a doctor, then there some services which operate on a  more casual basis:
  • Doctor365 has a clinic opposite the main hosptial entrance in Newcastle Road:  they are open 7 days per week, but with reduced hours due to Covid.  They were offering walk-up, no appointment necessary, but now ask you to phone them beforehand 
  • Laya Healthcare have a walk-in clinic in Briarhill for treating minor injuries, and may offer appointments.for minor illnesses (call them first to check).

All GPs / medical centres must have an out-of-hours service.   There are two main ones in Galway (WestDoc and CityDoc).   If  you need to see a doctor at the night or weekend, then phone your GP's office, and follow the instructions on their answerphone to contact the after hours 


Hospital and emergency health care

If  someone is seriously ill or hurt or at risk of dying, your should call an an ambulance:  in Ireland you do this by telephoning 999  or 112 (from a mobile).  Read more advice here.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) runs public hospitals in Ireland

The main accident and emergency service is at Galway University Hospital in Newcastle Rd.   They are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.    In Ireland, you should usually get a referral from your General Practitioner (GP) before going to the hospital - except if it is a major emergency.   

The Galway Clinic, which is located behind Doughiska, is a private hospital.  They have an Emergency service, but you can only use it if your GP refers you.

Other hospitals in Galway include Bon Secours in Renmore and Merlin Park which is in Merlin Woods.  They do not have emergency services, and the only way to be treated there is to have a referral from your GP to a hospital doctor.



Government offices

Hopefully you won't need them - but just in case, it's handy to know where to find the most important government offices:

The Tax office, aka Revenue

Geata na Cathrach (City Gate)  - in a large building just off Fairgreen Rd - click here to see it in Google Maps.  But these days you need to register on-line at www.Revenue.ie to do just about anything with them.

Social Welfare aka Intreo

Also in Fairgreen Rd - right on the corner of College Rd.   Click here ...

Galway City Council

Up the hill from the Welfare office, in College Rd.   Click here ....

Galway County Council

Up the opposite side of the same hill .. in Prospect Hill

Garda (the Irish name for the police)

There's a very big regional head quarters building opposite GMIT.   The main public service here is the Garda National Immigration Bureau registrations - contact them to make an appointment.

For most other things, see local stations in Mill St, or Salthill, or Oranmore - or call 999 or 112 if a crime is happening right now.





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