Galway, Ireland Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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The city of GALWAY , folk capital of the west, has a vibrancy and hedonism that make it unique. People come here with energies primed for enjoyment - the music, the drink, the "crack" - and it can be a difficult place to leave. University College Galway guarantees a high proportion of young people in term time, maintained in summer by the attractions of the city's festivals. This youthful energy is an important part of Galway's identity, and the city's mix of culture and fun attracts not only disaffected bohemians from other areas of Ireland but folksy young Europeans who return each year with an almost religious devotion. Galway sees itself in many ways as the capital of Gaelic Ireland, where traditional aspects of Irish society, primarily music and language, are most confidently and colourfully expressed.

As is the case with many other Irish cities, Galway has, for the past decade, been experiencing a surge of economic growth. Constant renovation is in progress in the small and crowded city centre, and during the summer it has the energy of a boom town, with an expanding number of shops and restaurants to cater for the increase in visitors and students. The downside of this is the huge amount of property development galloping ahead in the city centre, threatening to take away some of the city's unique character, though, for the time being at least, Galway retains its human scale.

Prosperity allows a vigorous independence from Dublin, mirrored in the artistic dynamism of the city. It's a focus for the traditional music of Galway and Clare - Galway's status as an old fishing town on the mythical west coast adding a certain potency - and there's strong interest in drama. This renewed sense of civic and artistic optimism is reflected not only in conventional arts but in the vibrant street theatre that has become the hallmark of the city. At no time is the dynamism of Galway more evident than during its festivals , especially the Galway Arts Festival (tel 091/583800) during the last two weeks in July, when practitioners of theatre, music, poetry and the visual arts create a rich cultural jamboree. In April the city hosts a festival specifically devoted to poetry itself, the Cúirt Poetry Festival (tel 091/565886), in June it's film buffs who invade the city for the Film Fleadh (tel 091/751655), while the king of all Galway festivals, the riotous Galway Races usually takes place during the first week in August. At the end of September, the Galway Oyster Festival (tel 091/527282) completes the annual round. If visiting the city at any of these times be warned that accommodation will be at a premium, and you'll need to book well in advance.

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