Located in the pedestrian zone, it’s one of the the oldest traders on William Street, and has been trading there since the 1930’s, but the building itself has stood on William Street since the 16th Century.
The bar was originally a “Spirit Grocery”, combining a pub with a grocery shop. Spirit groceries first appeared in the 19th century, when a growing temperance movement in Ireland forced publicans to diversify their businesses to compensate for declining spirit sales. By the 1960/70’s however, with the arrival of the supermarket, many pubs lost the retail end of their business and concentrated solely on the licensed trade.
Many pubs in Ireland today still resemble grocer’s shops of the mid 20th century, with the bar counter and rear shelving taking up the majority of the space in the main bar area. Garavan’s, which used to bottle its own Guinness, as well as packaging its own brand of tea, no longer sells groceries, but has changed very little inside since the 1950’s. It has a lovely oak panelled interior adorned with many of the old journals, ledgers and receipts which documented their trade as a Spirit Grocery.
Garavan’s Bar now has one of the largest selections of whiskey (and gin) in Galway. The Irish collection includes some of the finest and rarest Pot Still, Malt and Blended whiskies (check out their beautiful display cabinet in the bar displaying some of the oldest and finest Irish whiskeys from the 1940’s onwards). There is also a large collection of whiskies from all of the different regions in Scotland and some excellent American Bourbons, along with some delightful and unusual Japanese whiskies.
There are over 125 different types of whiskey in Garavan’s, so it would be impossible not to find one to your liking! Garavan’s have a very good whiskey menu to help you make your selection and offer a range of in-house Whiskey Tasting platters, so there can be few better places to relax and discover the world of Irish whiskey.
Garavan’s has also hosted the Powers Irish Coffee Making Championship in the West of Ireland. This encouraged them to specialise in the making of this classic Irish concoction, and now they serve one of the best Irish Coffees in Galway, presented in a bespoke Garavan’s Irish Coffee glass and spoon.
Garavan’s is a partcularly friendly pub and if you want a bit more information about the whiskey in your glass, you should ask for their head barman, Brian Taylor, who’s also a great man for the “banter”! It’s a great place to take a break during the day and enjoy a quiet drink or an Irish Coffee, or to spend an evening amongst Galway locals any day of the week. There are traditional Irish music session on Fridays and Saturdays (Thursdays too in the summer) and the pub has free Wifi.
Last tip: if you like a bit of history, some good stories and some typical Irish humour, ask for a copy of their book “The days and Nights of Garavans”, which is a collection of tales and local wisdom from some of Garavan’s best known characters, assembled by a local journalist in the 1970’s and 80’s. You can order a copy online, but there really is nothing to beat sitting in Garavan’s itself, with a good whiskey in one hand, the book in the other and a few laughter lines on your face!