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The Galway Player: Winter Is Coming…but first the Galway Races

Author of the dating bible that is Shift and Drift and expert on how to get a wear on at the Galway Races, The Galway Player shares some inside information on where to go to get lucky away from the race track in the City of Tribes.

by Rob Dore | July 25, 2015

According to the good folk of Westeros it is anyway, but to the people of Galway “The Races are coming”. It’s a line uttered with the same solemnity as the Game of Thrones winter warning, with the people of Galway bracing themselves for an influx of high heeled, fake tanned, dickie-bow tie wearing visitors. The Galway Races aka “Rag Week for Adults” as it’s affectionately known is a true social and sporting phenomenon. Revelers travel the length and breadth of the country to pay over the odds for beds they barely use and drinks that take longer to order than the donkey you backed in the last race took to finish.

Three years ago I first learned that horses actually race at this great drinking festival. Not that that matters of course, it’s not a major part of the week. The Galway Races are as much about equine excellence as FIFA is about honesty and integrity.


People love visiting Galway at the best of times, but Race Week is genuinely on another level. I’ve always thought of Galway being like the sound lad in a group, the first one you’d ring for a pint when you’ve got a thirst. A bit of a messer, the life and soul of the party and a great man for a few tunes at the end of the night. Nothing like Dublin, who’d be a flash prick who wears sunglasses inside, constantly changes his Facebook profile pic and always disappears when it’s his round or Kilkenny who’s a boring bastard, probably an accountant who never gets drunk.

Galway was once unfairly labelled “the graveyard of ambition” but that was just because of the plague of hippies in the city which are mainly confined to the West part of town. Those soap dodgers tend to stick to themselves and rarely engage normal people unless they require a light for their rizla or you happen to be drinking the same pretentious craft piss as them. However if your ambition is to have a fantastic social life and avoid sunshine for 97% of the year, the City of the Tribes is the jackpot.

The places to go for Race Week 2015 include the old reliables and a few welcome additions.

For years Eyre Square had all the appeal to drinkers of a salad after a night out. McGettigans though have chosen the old Cuba building as the Galway site for their latest bar, and while it might look like an Irish themed bar in Tenerife from the outside don’t let that fool you. This is one of the coolest bars in town and will be hopping this year as it’s a short walk to and from the buses to the track.


Another relative newbie but an absolute thoroughbred is An Pucan, across from the train station on Foster Street. This place will be buzzing for food during the day and with a reputation for top live music the nights will be a lively affair. The lads in An Pucan will have the Child of Prague out for the week as their newly opened Beer Garden is simply spectacular, the attention to detail not to mention 99inch non glare tv is superb. Genuinely the best beer garden I’ve ever set foot in, in this country. It’s nearly too nice to have people drinking in it.

A short stroll away (or an arduous expedition depending on how sore your woman’s feet are by this stage) is the Raddision Blu Hotel. One of my favourite haunts particularly on Ladies Day, the hotel turns into a massive house party. Thousands of well dressed drunk people dance and shite talk the night away inside the various areas. The Raddison has ten bars serving flat out with a range of music to suit all tastes. You’d need to be heading there straight from the track but to get in. The Raddison tends to get the late twenties plus crowd, the talent here is always top class, you can even woo her with Moet and a plastic container of chicken goujons and chips…..who says romance is dead.

Cross Street has the potential to be amazing this week, a sun kissed Latin Quarter has a special magical aura. Watching people dressed in suits and gowns knocking back bottles of Buckfast and cans of Karpackie is never not funny. The weather is key for a real party atmosphere here, sadly all too often the ladies are dripping due to the summer showers instead of the charm of local lads. Like Mayo’s championship ambitions, an entire county hopes against hope, but almost inevitably the result is always the same – a complete washout. This road at the bottom of Shop Street (Cross Street) is closed off to traffic so the whole street is like one massive long Wetherspoons.


No night out in Galway is complete without a trip to legendary restaurant/ last last chance saloon; Supermacs. Rumour has it that owner Pat McDonagh is planning his battle with McDonalds from the comfort of his Chicken Bone Throne. An exact replica of the Iron Throne in Kings Landing, made from the carcass of chickens used in the world famous Supermacs Snackbox. Well that’s what some lad told me the last night I was in there..


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