Walking through Eyre Square today, with the hustle and bustle of that iconic Galway atmosphere, city commuters going about their daily journeys, skateboarder flipping and tricking around the millennium fountain, those lazy afternoon coffee chats among groups of friends dotted around Kennedy Park, its hard to picture this space as it was afew hundreds ago, from then to now still the focal point of Galway life. Yet some iconic reminders of those historic Galway times remain to this day, with none more familiar or welcoming than that of Galway’s Meeting Place, ‘The Skeff’.
Originally built as stately homes in the 1630s, The face of The Skeff gives us a little glimpse into the heritage and importance of the area, just to think of the evolution of the city these walls has seen, growing and developing around this building, from as far back as the Irish Rebellion of 1641 to the European Capital of Culture 2020.
It took until 1845, during a time of historic struggle within our country, ‘An Gorta Mór’, to see the city grow and develop further. With mass emigration, starvation and illness widespread throughout the country, a glimmer of hope came to Galway with the granting of A Royal Charter to the city. This charter brought with it; Queens College, Now NUIG, The transport link of a new railway network and the first real tourists to Galway City. Established shortly afterwards in 1850, The Skeffington Arms was born into a new wave of hope within the city and country and through the years since The Skeffington Arms has reaffirmed its position at the centre of Galway’s Social Life, for visitors and locals alike.
Stepping in through those iconic double doors and taking a stroll through the ornate dark woodwork of the various bars, one cannot but be impressed by the craftsmanship of this beautiful building. From the cozy fireside seats enjoyed with a coffee, scone and a daily newspaper, to the 1852 whiskey bar showcasing the best in Irish whiskey, your mind fills with thoughts of those who’s footsteps have gone before. Those visitors from around the world that enjoyed the beautiful surrounds almost as much as the traditional Irish hospitality they received. The students that gained as much of an education within the walls of the Skeff as they did in the lecture rooms of Galway’s Colleges. The Locals that always knew the Skeff was the meeting place and perfect for whatever the occasion. And The Staff, the backbone to The Skeff’s success, smiling and serving those thousands of customers and guests down through the years.
Sitting here in the Skeff, enjoying a meal and a drink on an evening, looking out over Eyre Square and Kennedy Park, thinking about those times gone by and what this building has witnessed down through the years; The Easter Rising of 1916, John.F.Kennedy’s speech in Eyre Square, The Great Galway Fire of 1971, The visit of the Pope John Paul to Galway, and 8 Football & 5 Hurling All Ireland homecomings.
Throughout all this time, The Skeffington Arms has remained rooted in the heart of Galway City Culture. It’s not hard to see why this family run business has been a strong presence throughout Galway’s rich heritage and will undoubtedly remain engrained in Galway Culture for many more years to come.
The Skeff has temporarily closed its doors in line with Government restrictions but to book your table and enjoy a meal or drink in the historic surroundings once service resumes, email [email protected]