The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul.
— Robert Wyland

Galway Hooker Heritage & Boat Tour:

If you are not in a hurry, and you would like to extend your standard 1 hr. Harbour Tour, we offer an fascinating opportunity to immerse yourself further into Galway’s maritime history with our 2-3 hr. experience. 

How does this work?

1hr - The first hour includes a visit to some of the Claddagh's most intimate history in the City Museum, as well as an opportunity to step onto a traditional Hooker Sail Boat, moored in the harbour.   

2hr - The second hour is your Galway Bay Harbour Tour, on either our passenger or power boat.

IN ADDITION, you have the option of including a short walking tour through the iconic Claddagh Village to visit a traditional thatched Claddagh cottage (Galway's popular heritage and design studio: Katie's Claddagh Cottage)

Details of this historical adventure include:

It is now possible to 'walk in the footsteps' of the original Claddagh families and experience life as it was 100 years ago in Galway, with our Galway Hooker Heritage Tour.   

This tour will give you a meaningful glance back throughout the last 100 years of Galway's unique maritime history, and in particular how the ancient iconic Claddagh Village was central to Galway's development into the city that we love today.  During this cultural voyage you will hear the heritage & folklore of the Claddagh Boatmen & Fisher-wives, from medieval times to present, while enjoying one of Ireland's most treasured landscapes from the viewpoint of the sea.

Maritime Heritage Tour Itinerary:

10am: Before heading out on our standard harbour tour, you will visit Galway City Museum for a narrated Claddagh Maritime History tour & see the magnificent Galway Hooker Boat (The Máirtín Oliver).

The Galway Hooker in its various forms (gleoiteog, púcán, leathbhád & bád mór) is the traditional sailing work-boat of Galway Bay.  These distinctive short, broad boats, with their tarred black hulls and brown sails, were used for fishing and for transportation (particularly turf and seaweed).  The last of the working Galway Hookers was named the Truelight and owned by late King of the Claddagh, Máirtín Oliver.  Máirtín was the last man to have sailed an original working Galway Hooker from the Claddagh, prior to their re-emergence in the 1980s as pleasure crafts.   In honour of the late King of Claddagh, a Galway Hooker boat was custom made for the Museum by traditional craftsmen Pat Ó Cualáin and Micheál MacDonncha from An Cheathrú Rua.  This boat hangs spectacularly in the atrium of the Galway City museum.

10.45am: Step onto a traditional Hooker Boat, moored in the Harbour close to the Museum and experience what life was like for the 'Claddagh Boatmen' hundreds of years ago.  See, touch & feel one of these beautifully crafted boats.  It is an unforgettable & moving encounter with history itself! EXCITING NEW SUMMER PROJECTS to be announced shortly.

Weather permitting, we can offer a packed lunch / picnic on the boat for an additional cost.  

11.10am: After this fascinating experience, you will take a gentle cruise of Galway Bay in our Kerry Head 12 Seater Passenger Boat, or the thrilling Fizzog Power Boat.

PRICE: €30

For an additional €10 you can enjoy a narrated visit to Katie's Claddagh Cottage, directly after your boat trip. Details below:

12.00pm: After you have enjoyed our museum & boat tour it is now possible to WALK through the Claddagh with our guide to the restored thatched ‘Katie’s Claddagh Cottage (  This heritage & design centre, is one of the most popular heritage points in Galway.  Here you will enjoy scones, tea & homemade Irish Guinness cake next to an inviting open turf fire, as well as enjoy a visual tour of original Claddagh artefacts.  Experience what it was like to live, cook & survive in the area from the late 1800s to 1930s, when all the thatched cottages were demolished.  See the original craft of thatching with traditional hazel beams, & the kind of tools that would have sustained a community of up to 500 dwellings during periods of hardship and resilience. 

Click on Video to see a little bit of our treasured history:


As one of the oldest recorded fishing villages in Ireland, the Claddagh was a distinct Irish speaking community that dates back to the 6th Century.  Up until the early 1900s it was a thriving centre for different trades, including traditional Galway Hooker Boat (Húicéir) boat building.  

While these traditional fishing boats were at the very heart of the ancient Claddagh tradition, our tour also brings ‘alive’ the unique folklore that accompanied the rugged and precarious seafaring experience of this West of Ireland village. 

Galway's Maritime Heritage Tour.   Photo Credit:

Galway's Maritime Heritage Tour. Photo Credit:

This is a heritage rich in custom and ritual: from the annual ‘Blessing of the Boat’ ceremony, to the use of turf ash & salt to ward off bad luck when venturing to far off shores. 

This tour is an opportunity to experience the profound connection between the people of the Claddagh and the Wild Atlantic sea. 

You will hear tales of intrigue & sorrowful stories of families departed, as well laments of long lost love, so eloquently captured in the hearts of those who wear Richard Joyce’s Claddagh Ring.

Galway Bay Tours
The Best of Galway's Maritime History.

The Best of Galway's Maritime History.