Galway Tour Guide: Meet Gerry Hanley
Are you a native of Galway?
Yes, I was born and raised and educated in Galway.
What got you interested in guiding and becoming a Galway Tour Guide?
I was on the board of Galway Civic Trust four years ago when asked by a friend if I could help him out in the busy season. I had a great interest in local history and so I took to the work easily.
What areas of Galway do your tours cover?
My walk tours to date are in the city center, telling the story of Medieval Galway up to the present day. I am in the process of extending future tours around Corrib lake. I lived by the Corrib river for many years and I am the director of a not-for-profit company promoting the region.
How many tours do you offer and how often are they available?
My walk tours are about 1 to 1.5 hours and are arranged to suit the visitor's schedule.
Do you have a professional background in history?
No, I qualified as an engineer. I kept up my interest in heritage and history over the years. I am also a traditional musician, which keeps me in touch with cultural activities.
What can people expect when they take one of your tours?
To find themselves engaged for the duration of the tour, which is neither a lecture nor a classroom. I keep it light with some personal experiences thrown in.
For example, I saw JFK in '63 when he visited Galway and I recall that experience with the group. I do not spoof or tell leprechaun stories.
I do not comment on international political figures individually but I do relate and discuss the big picture world issues and where Ireland stands and how all the top Medtech companies have a presence in Galway.
Having worked at a senior executive level myself, I can engage with professional people and their questions. We visit the St. Nicholas Church (constructed in 1320), the old town, the Claddagh, the Corrib River, Galway Bay, and the New Cathedral (opened in 1965).
For someone who has never visited Galway city or county, what would be the most interesting historic attractions for them to see, in your opinion?
The old medieval town and its great history as a trading port (The Tribes ). The two big churches, the Corrib River and lake, Cong, Connemara and Ashford Castle, and the Aran Islands.
Many groups are only here for one day, but I recommend 3 days as a minimum. Galway is a vibrant city with lots of traditional music, together with entertainment and good food.
What makes your tours different from other historical guided tours in the area?
I get to know my clients and gauge their level of interest in my tour offerings. I come across with credibility and knowledge and I connect with people on that level.
I am trying to focus on people who want a “real” experience of Ireland combining heritage and history, trad/soul music, interaction with the locals, nature, and the chance to see Ireland’s beautiful waterways.
I am often asked by tour operators to take high-end couples/ family groups on tours of the city and they usually stay at high-end hotels. And that is good too since they want assurance of well-located, high-quality accommodation.
But there are also a number of B&Bs that are very spacious, high-quality, owner-operated, and give a very good personal experience.
What is your favorite historic attraction and why?
The walk in the old town because I can broaden the discussion to link with events in the U.S. and the U.K. and people connect with that. For example, a descendant of the historic Lynch family associated with Galway’s Lynch’s Castle was one of the signatories of the American Constitution.
How can people book one of your tours or get in contact with you?
They can contact me by phone (00-353-87-2846323) or by email at [email protected].