Standing on the left bank of the River Corrib, Galway’s famous Spanish Arch is the sole remainder of the city’s 16th century bastion, designed to protect the town’s quays and merchant ships from looting. The arch itself, built as an access point to the town, was known as the ‘Ceann an Bhalla’, or the ‘Head of the wall’, later taking its name from the Spanish ships that it docked beneath it. Despite being partially destroyed in the 1755 tsunami, the Spanish Arch still stands today - an important landmark, directly opposite the Claddagh shore.
A popular pastime for visitors to the city is strolling along the ‘Long Walk’, the 18th century promenade running along the quay, where you can soak up the atmosphere of the seafront and admire the Arch’s famous ‘Madonna of the Quays’ sculpture, carved from wood by artist Claire Sheridan who inhabited the adjacent building in the 1950’s. Overlooking the Arch and providing some of the best views, is the Galway City Museum, home to a fascinating exhibition of local art, history and craft.