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Brian Nolan Galway City Walking Tours
Brian Nolan, owner of Galway City Walking Tours.

Galway City Walking Tours: Meet Brian Nolan

Are you a Galway native?
Yes, I was born and raised here, and also went to university here.

How long have you been working as a Galway City tour guide?
Nine years.

How did you get into the business?
Folks I used to travel for in the USA would call up asking me to meet their friends or clients in Galway. Pretty soon my wife said to me, “Why don’t you just do it full-time? You’ve been practicing for it all your life.…and the rest, as they say, is history!”

What drew you to tourism? Is this something you did before?
I ran a travel company in New York and before that worked with Tourism Ireland in Ireland and in the USA and Canada.

I love the world of travel and above all, love to help folks enjoy their trip to Ireland.

What kinds of stories do you like to tell tourists?

houses on the water The Ireland Travel Club
A view of the Claddagh in Galway, one of its oldest neighborhoods. Photo: sfabisuk for Getty Images Pro.

A variety of tales, from history to culture, to events that shaped our city and country, as well as contemporary stories about modern Ireland.

I love to weave into my tours real examples of emigrant stories that are meaningful to my guests, echoing their ancestors’ experiences leaving Ireland 100 years or more ago.

Describe a typical walking tour in the middle of the summer?

University College Galway. Photo: ClaudineVM for Getty Images.

Routes vary but I usually cover the main sites of interest in the city, including St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, constructed in 1320, the Galway City Museum, Lynch’s Castle, the Claddagh, and when time permits, the National University of Ireland, Galway, and Galway Cathedral, as well as the backstreets where some interesting stories can be told and imagined.

Where do your customers come from? (Is it generally from one country, like the USA, or is it an equal mix of people from around the world)?
Primarily the USA and Canada, with Australia, the UK, and Ireland as well.

Sometimes I have visitors from Singapore, New Zealand, and Argentina.

It’s always a good thing when I have folks from far-flung locations as there’s always a story as to why they came to Ireland.

For someone visiting Galway for the first time, what would you recommend they see in a short period of time, say 24 hours?

beach in Ireland planning a trip to Ireland
The Salthill beach in Galway. Photo: Freeskyline.

The old city, the Claddagh and Salthill…and if they have time, wander along the River Corrib and canals.

They should try a Galway bay oyster, and they should also catch some buskers and musicians playing on the streets.

They ought to see a show, either “Trad on the Prom,”  or “Tunes in the Church.”

Both are fabulous shows, and usually at least one of them is showing nightly during the season.

Galway Town Hall Theater, the city's former old courthouse. It was totally refurbished in the 1990s. Photo: Stefan Jürgenson, https://www.flickr.com/photos/94039982@N00/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

If live music and dance is not your thing, then catch a play in our Town Hall Theatre, which offers performances nightly.

What do you love most about Galway?
The availability of music and entertainment in the 60+ pubs in Galway, music, and song of all genres and styles, and almost all for free.

Galway is alive with music; there’s no need to watch TV.

How can people find Galway City Walking Tours online?

people walking on a street Galway City Walking Tours
Galway city center. Photo: Derek Cullen, Failte Ireland.

My ‘handle’ is @GalwayWalks on Twitter, and you can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, and also on TripAdvisor.

My blog is full of short stories that I write, some of which were prompted by meeting folks on my tours and hearing their tales, how they came to be in America or wherever, but I write a lot of stories on Facebook too on “Walking Tours of Galway.”

I am constantly finding new gems, researching stories that have never before been published or told.

What else should readers of Ireland on a Budget know about Galway City Walking Tours?
My favorite tour is the “Shortest Walking Tour of Ireland, the Fifty Foot Tour of O’Connor’s Pub in Salthill.”

It’s a fireside chat and happens only when groups pre-book. It starts at 6 p.m. and finishes at 7.30 p.m. when the pub officially opens.

The colorful O'Connor's Pub in Salthill. Photo: Andrew Hurley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhurley/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Guests get to fill their own pint of Guinness behind the famous bar and then hear 75 minutes of non-stop stories…and it's all interactive. Questions and answers, no set script…its really great fun for visiting families.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been recommended by Rick Steves, National Geographic Magazine, and The New York Times.

I am on the Top 10 Rated Activities in Galway City on TripAdvisor and I get referrals from friends and previous clients whom I now consider friends.

Oh, and I love my job! I get to make people smile and laugh and talk about their trip and their ancestors…it’s a buzz that I did not get sitting behind a desk.

If you are interested in taking a tour of Galway, fill out the Contact page on the Galway City Walking Tours website  or email Brian at [email protected]

 

Read more: How to See Galway, Ireland's Cultural Capital, in 36 Hours (on a Budget!)