The phrase “meet you at The Skeff” has been in circulation for centuries here in Galway. Uttered from our parents to our parent’s parents and from visitor to visitor, this family-run late bar, restaurant and boutique hotel has been a rendezvous point for as long as any of us can remember. Built as a stately home back in the mid-17th century, established as a hotel in 1850 and now the largest bar in the city, there’s 170 years of history ingrained in the walls of The Skeffington Arms.
Evolving hand-in-hand with the city itself, this enduring Eyre Square destination has been there through it all. Keeping up with changing tastes while staying true to its original heritage, here’s a little glimpse into days gone by at The Skeff…
Constructed in the mid-17th century, during The Irish Rebellion of 1641 and located at the point of revolution for Galway city, a quick peek at the building’s facade will leave you in no doubt that it was made to impress. Overlooking all the action in Eyre Square, The Skeffington Arms was built directly west of the John F Kennedy Memorial Park and has overseen the progression of the area from humble marketplace to the social epicenter of the city.
Transforming from stately housing to public area in 1850, The Skeffington Arms was established as a hotel during times of struggle, starvation and mass emigration for Ireland. With The Great Famine taking place from 1845 to 1852, the hotel’s unfortunate beginnings were eased when Galway was granted a royal charter as one of the country’s three Queens Colleges in 1845 and the first railway lines reached the city. Drawing business and tourism to Galway, the modest hotel hugely benefited from these additions and began to prosper.
Throughout its many years in business, The Skeffington Arms has seen many faces come and go. Be that fellow hotels, restaurants and bars, commercial establishments or happy heads swanning around the city, they’ve been a constant presence since day dot. The hotel even made it through the great fire of 1972 relatively unscathed - a blaze that originated in the south-west corner of the Square and saw much of the city destroyed.
To this day, they’ve retained the original dark woodwork and intricately-carved ceilings that add charm and character to every corner of the building’s interior. Whenever the interior is in need of some sprucing up, no expense is spared, with every little nook and cranny being hand-painted in minute detail. Stretching across five floors, it’s a seriously spacious spot that maintains a uniquely intimate feel through its division into distinct areas dedicated to gin, whiskey, live music, sports and of course, food.
Juxtaposing the medieval church-like feel, there’s always a buzz like no other spilling out the door of The Skeff. Students, tourists and Galway natives congregate here for evening meals, special occasions and live events, making memories that will last a lifetime. Laughter and merriment echo throughout this 10,000 square foot establishment, with an ever-evolving cocktail menu keeping all the patrons in good spirits. Serving as an imposing reminder of the Galway of yore while expertly adapting with the changing times, there hasn’t been a moment in the past 170 years that The Skeff has become stagnant.
To find out more, book your stay or plan an evening at The Skeff, click HERE.
Feature photo by Grzegorz Dutkowski