Christmas Memories from some Famous Galway Faces
Christmas//Galway Stories

Christmas Memories from some Famous Galway Faces

It's the most wonderful time of the year in Galway and, to celebrate, we caught up with a few famous faces to talk about their favourite Christmas memories and what they love most about all the festivity...

These lovely answers to some simple questions really brought us so much joy and Christmas cheer, and we hope it does for you too! What is your favourite memory of Christmas time in Galway?

Mandy Maher

The gorgeous, glamorous Mandy Maher is the MD of one of Ireland's leading modeling agencies,Catwalk Model Agency and a group that represents Social Media Influencers & Content Creators across the county, The Platform by MM.

What is your connection to Galway?
Young love brought me to Galway when I was 19 years old and I never left. Now happily married to that same young love 30 years later!

What is your favorite memory of Christmas time in Galway?
My favorite Galway Christmas memory is with the kids at Elf Town. I love seeing the excitement on their faces. !

Do you have any Christmas traditions that can only be done when you’re in Galway?
Every year we have a family day out to the Christmas Market for an evening where we enjoy hotdogs, burgers and hot chocolate. After that we then go to my dreaded horror of the Big Wheel (I offer this up, trust me) as I am so terrified of heights!

What are your plans for Christmas this year?
This year for the first time in 23 years we are going home to my mum for Christmas Dinner.

Where are some of your favourite Galway spots to pick up great Christmas presents?
Oh there are so many brilliant places to pick up gifts in Galway but my go to places would be Brown Thomas, a voucher from The Galmont Hotel, hampers from McCambridges, gifts in Fallers Jewellers, Treasure Chest, Ór Jewellery and Rituals.

Mike Denver

Mike Denver could be considered the voice of Galway! A Country Music Artist and one of the mentors at TG4’s Glór Tíre, which reaches its milestone 18th season and returns to TV screens on the 11th of January 2022.

What is your connection to Galway?
Being from Portumna, Galway is our closest city and was always where we went to do our Christmas shopping.

What is your favorite memory of Christmas time in Galway?
From my younger years, The 12 pubs of Galway, and more recently it would have to be the Christmas Market.

Do you have any Christmas traditions that can only be done when you’re in Galway?
Not something that has to be done in Galway but we have made it our own tradition to go see Santy and visit the Christmas Market as a family. We soak up all the Christmas atmosphere and enjoy the lights on all the streets.

What are your plans for Christmas this year?
We hope to visit my wife Elizabeth’s family on Christmas Eve. Then home early to bed waiting for Santa. Christmas morning mass in Portumna. Then a visit to my Mam and Dad’s house, where all the family meet early Christmas morning for Christmas breakfast. Then we go down to watch the annual charity Christmas swim. Then lots of food for the rest of the day and a few drinks.

Where are some of your favorite Galway spots to pick up great Christmas presents?
Galway has many great retail shops, The Treasure Chest being one of them, but the last few years it would have to be Smyths Toy Store.

Máire Éilis Ní Fhlatharta

Máire Éilís Ní Fhlatharta plays Caitriona on TG4’s Drama Series Ros na Rún. Now in its 26th season, the show is broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday at 8.30pm with an omnibus on Sundays at 7.30pm

What is your connection to Galway?
I'm a proud native of An Spidéal on the Wild Atlantic Way of Galway. I've lived most of my life here.

What is your favorite memory of Christmas time in Galway?
I love walking down a bustling Shop Street during the festive season with the lights on and bumping into people who are home for the holidays. Galway's so small and always so atmospheric.

Do you have any Christmas traditions that can only be done when you’re in Galway?
A hot port in Taaffees on Christmas Eve.

Where are some of your favorite Galway spots to pick up great Christmas presents?
I love the Galway Market on Saturday mornings especially on the run up to Christmas. Standún here locally has so much to offer for loved ones along with An Ceardlann (Spiddal Craft Village) for unique gifts.

Fiona Ní Fhlaithearta presents the weather on TG4 and so, being from Galway, an aimsir keeps her busy!

What is your connection to Galway?
I’m a Galwegian through and through. All my relatives hail from Camus, Rosmuc and An Cheathrú Rua. My daughter Niamh was born in Australia though, so she broke the mould within my immediate family, but my little boy Páidí is very proud that he was born in Cathair na dTreabh.

What is your favourite memory of Christmas time in Galway?
We used to go to midnight mass when we were kids. The best thing about that at the time was knowing it would technically be Christmas Day by the time mass would be over and that receiving Santy’s presents was just hours away. Oh the excitement!

Do you have any Christmas traditions that can only be done when you’re in Galway?
One of the biggest traditions in Galway in recent years is a trip to the Christmas Market. People travel the length and breadth of the country to visit Eyre Square this time of year. There’s a wonderful selection of entertainment and stalls, you can eat the best of food and buy gifts, and have you even been to the Christmas Market if you haven’t had a spin on the big wheel?!

What are your plans for Christmas this year?
I plan on spending the entire festive period in my pyjamas watching movies. The kids are excited to watch ‘SpongeBob, An Scannán’ on TG4 (2nd of January). I have highlighted ‘Joe Burke – Ceiliúradh’ which will air on TG4 on Christmas Day (10.20pm). Galway box player Joe Burke died in February of this year and in celebration of the rich musical heritage he left after him, a special programme will air with performances from some of the most influential Irish musical figures.

Where are some of your favourite Galway spots to pick up great Christmas presents?
We are spoilt for choice right here in Conamara when it comes to shopping for Christmas gifts. There’s a wide variety of shops and businesses to choose from. Údarás na Gaeltachta has compiled a list of businesses in the Gaeltacht regions from all around the country that you can buy from and you can find them by looking up the hashtag #ÓnnGaeltachtleGrá (from the Gaeltacht with love). You’re sure to find something for everyone.

Stefan Lundstrum

The smiling Stefan Lundstrum is the General Manger at The Galmont Hotel and Spa. Always especially busy at Christmas, Stefan took a bit of time out to talk to us about all things Yuletide.

What is your connection to Galway?
Initially I came up to Galway to help out with managing The Harbour Hotel for 2 weeks during the first Volvo Ocean Race in 2009 but a month later I moved up permanently and have been here ever since apart from a years sabbatical in Limerick.

What is your favourite memory of Christmas time in Galway?
Christmas at the hotel is a special time of the year for our guests. There’s great excitement at check in, guests catching up and spending time with their family and friends in the hotel. We have many guests from families to couples of all ages. There is a lovely atmosphere in the hotel on Christmas Day, and it feels different. I have always worked at Christmas, at first in The Harbour Hotel and in more recent years, at The Galmont. Last year stands out as I didn’t work on Christmas Day and I must admit it was nice to spend the whole day at home with my family.

What are your plans for Christmas this year?
I will be here in The Galmont to welcome our guests before their lunch and then later dinner with my family at home followed by running the “Fields of Athenry” race on St Stephens day in Athenry!

Where are some of your favourite Galway spots to pick up great Christmas presents?
I like to shop local and support Galway businesses. Retail and hospitality have been closed for part of this year so, now more than ever, it is important to shop and buy local! There are so many unique shops that make Galway special. I like to send gifts made in Galway and my parents in Sweden always look forward to their Christmas parcel from Galway. They particularly love the hampers from The Foods of Athenry and they loved A Foxford Woollen Mill Throw from the Treasure Chest in Galway City.