Rated 4.0 out of 5

If you are looking for a place to visit in Galway that is rich in history, architecture and spirituality, you might want to check out St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. This is the largest medieval church in Ireland that is still in use, and it has a fascinating story to tell. 

St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church was founded in 1320 by the Anglo-Norman merchants who ruled Galway at the time. They dedicated the church to Saint Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of seafarers, in recognition of Galway’s status as a port town. The church was built in the Gothic style, with a nave, chancel, transepts and a central tower. The church was also endowed with a college of priests, who lived in a nearby house and served the parish.

Over the centuries, St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church witnessed many historical events and changes. In 1477, Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed here before his voyage to America. In 1652, the church was taken over by Cromwellian forces and used as a stable for their horses. In 1691, the church was damaged by a fire during the Siege of Galway. In 1832, the church was restored by the architect James Pain, who added a new spire and windows.

St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church has many interesting features and attractions for visitors to explore. Some of them include:

  • The carved stone font, dating from the 14th century, which is one of the oldest surviving objects in the church.
  • The tomb of James Lynch Fitzstephen, the mayor of Galway who hanged his own son for murder in 1493, according to legend.
  • The memorial plaque for Richard Martin, the founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and a champion of animal rights.
  • The stained glass windows, depicting scenes from the life of St. Nicholas and other biblical stories.
  • The organ, built in 1898 by Telford & Telford, which is one of the finest instruments in Ireland.
  • The choir stalls, carved in oak by Henry Hill in 1910, which feature intricate designs and symbols.
  • The altar table, made from Irish oak in 1970 by John Behan, which represents the Last Supper.
  • The medieval carvings on the pillars and arches, which include animals, faces and geometric patterns.

St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is open to visitors and admission is free, but donations are welcome. Guided tours are available on request for groups of six or more. The church also hosts regular services, concerts and events throughout the year. You can find more information on their website.

St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is located in the heart of Galway City, surrounded by shops, cafes and pubs. St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is a must-see for anyone interested in history, culture and religion. It is a place where you can admire the beauty of medieval architecture, learn about the stories of Galway’s past and present, and experience the peace and tranquility of a sacred space.


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St. Nicholas Collegiate Church



Choir practice

Rated 4.0 out of 5
April 1, 2023

While on a day trip to Galway, popped into this beautiful church, sat at the back while the choir practiced. Magical.