The first time I went to Galway, I stayed at a hotel about a mile from the sea. If you stood on a chair in our hotel room, and peered through the top of the window over house roofs, you could just make out the bay in the distance! The next time I visited Galway, I stayed at a hotel right on the sea front at Salthill, the seaside resort part of Galway City – and didn’t have to stand on a chair to see the bay. This was the view from our window.
Galway Bay is one of the largest inlets on the west coast of Ireland, about 30 miles long, and between 6 and 19 miles wide. It separates County Galway in the north and County Clare in the south. From the Galway side, you can see the hills of the Burren.
In one sense, the coast road on the Galway side is a little disappointing, as the road is some distance from the shore, and if you’re driving, you only catch glimpses in between the trees and also the holiday properties that have been built all along the bay.
There are places, however, where you can reach the shore – here at Spiddal, for example.
And also from one of our favourite restaurants, we saw a rainbow over the bay.
And here, near the western end, is where the bay meets the Atlantic. If you sailed due west from here, you’d reach Goose Bay in Labrador.
One of my favourite Irish songs starts:
“If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
Or see the sun go down on Galway Bay.”
One evening we hoped to see the sun go down on Galway Bay, but got stuck in a traffic jam on the way. Watching the sun go down on the Galway Ring Road isn’t quite the same! But the next evening, we reached the small beach at Furbo to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.
In 'Irish Inheritance', Jenna and Guy stop for a short time at the beach at Furbo. Here's a short excerpt:
When they reached the coast road, Guy strained to catch a glimpse of Galway Bay, but new houses between the road and the shore blocked their view of the sea.
“I didn’t expect it to be like this,” he said. “When we looked at this road on the map, I thought we’d have a great view of the bay.”
Jenna heard the disappointment in his voice. “Maybe the road will run alongside the sea as we get nearer to Galway City.”
A few miles later, their wish was granted, and Jenna pulled off into a parking area overlooking a small beach. As they got out of the car, she took a deep breath of the salt-scented air.
“And this,” she said, with a dramatic flourish of her arm, “is Galway Bay for you, Mr. Sinclair.”
He caught hold of her hand as they went down the stone steps to the beach, strewn with brown seaweed and grey pebbles. The waves lapped gently on the sand, and they stood for several minutes, drinking in the view of the wide expanse of the bay and the low hills on the far side.
“For some reason all I can think of is the Christmas song about the boys from the NYPD choir singing Galway Bay,” he said eventually, “but I don’t know what the choir was actually singing.”
“I’ve always assumed it was the one about the sun going down on Galway Bay.” She sang the words softly. “If you ever go across the sea to Ireland...” After she’d finished the verse, she glanced apologetically at him. “Sorry, I don’t know the rest.”
Guy bent forward to kiss her lips, and rested his forehead against hers as he grasped both her hands. “This will be my abiding memory—you, me, the sound of the waves on the shore, and your lovely voice singing about Galway Bay.”