Rí Na Mara & The Galway Christmas Market: years gone by

Fáilte, Welcome to the Ri Na Mara Blog. What a year it has been, and what better way to announce a comeback than to do it with style in the city of the Tribes at Galway Christmas Market

It’s been 12 years since this magnificent tradition started. With over 50 wooden chalets of diverse, locally sourced, winter-warm gift ideas waiting to be held by you. From your favourite Irish-made products and crafts, to the thrilling experience of the 32 metre high big wheel and the traditional carousel.

Situated in Eyre Square, the very heart of Galway, Ri Na Mara has been a long-standing part of the Christmas Market since inception. Snug in our beautifully decorated, cozy cabin with your favourite Organic Seaweed Cosmetics and gift ideas. We have had quite the adventures looking back, and we couldn’t be more eager to share them. So away we go ho ho!

The Sounds

Ah the sounds. Of all the merry sounds that go with November in Eyre Square, I think I couldn’t be fond of anything more than the ones our customers make. From hurried footsteps, to the chatter of different languages and accents. I just love meeting all our lovely customers. They keep returning every year so we get to check how they and their family are doing. 

We have a few gentlemen who come every year religiously, and say to me

“Give me the basket of products I bought the wife last year, she was very happy with them!” Our customers are the best.

However, anyone familiar with Galway will know it’s not always the best weather here. Not always beautiful crisp winter air. Each year before the market starts I pull out and check my thermal socks, leggings, (sounds really stylish) polo necks, scarfs, gloves and heavy coats.  I have so many layers on. I’m surprised I can walk at all.

We have had some dreadful storms, hailstones, thunder and lightning where we had to shut down as it was too dangerous for the public, the gingerbread men were toppling over, lights & decorations were flying off the trees. 2010 was the coldest winter we ever witnessed, -14 degrees Celsius! Yet we stayed open. I remember a nice lady bought us some mulled wine as she felt so sorry for us.

The Sights 

Ah the sights. So much to see at the Market. So many carefully curated lights in so many colours. From the decorations and lanterns in the windows, to the colours of the market’s very own merchandise, to the bohemian colours of the Galway youth often spotted in the area. 

One thing I love about the Christmas Market is that you never know who you will meet. One year some of my nursing colleagues from UCHG visited me at the market, and it was the loveliest surprise. I hadn’t seen some of them in 15 years, it made me feel so nostalgic. A feeling that couldn’t be more attuned with the holidays. A true sight for sore eyes.

Speaking of an incredible sight, if you’ve been to the Galway Christmas market you’re probably somewhat familiar with the incredible height of the big wheel. In 2019, my mother came to visit one Christmas along with my brother and his children. The children, excited by the sight of the big wheel dragged their granny on for the journey around the big wheel, but with just her luck on a cold December evening, they got stuck at the top!! She was freezing, and insisted she would never try that again, the poor thing.

The Smells

Ah the smells, there are some smells that make me think only of Christmas and the Market, the obvious ones being mulled wine and cinnamon but also garlic, my neighbour in the chalet next to me has been selling garlic graters for the past eight years, and that aroma always drifts by. 

For the first six years of the Market, there was a fantastic French baker who sold the most fantastic treats. Oh, I was addicted to their fresh croissants, cakes and tarts. I’m pretty sure all of us working at the Rí na Mara chalet could not resist buying them daily.

The Feels

Ah the feels, if I haven’t laid the groundwork for a lot of lovely feelings these past paragraphs wait till you hear this wholesome story;

For a number of years we had a gentleman who used to visit us and he asked us ladies on the stall if we could look out for a nice girl for him. He had written a list of traits he would like the girl to have and also a list of his traits and possessions. He would call each week to see how our search was progressing and if we had found him the love of his life, often he would have another note with extra bonuses he wished to add. It was the sweetest thing. We did try and see if we could spot someone suitable, alas it is a difficult art; match making!

This year, a lot comes to mind from just the thought of the Galway Christmas Market. With the atmosphere of sparkling lights & carol singers, to the locality of the whole thing, and how it’s fostered culture & tradition. Every year families come down with their children to post letters to Santa, buy some Market favourite wooden decorations, and maybe see the jolly man in the red suit. Rekindling the enchantment of childhood memories in true Galway fashion.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our stories. It’s been quite the adventure we’ve had. Looking forward to having some more with you. So come on down this November and December. We have a specially selected range of Rí na Mara seaweed skincare products that make perfect presents for your loved ones. From stocking fillers, to our famous personalised luxury hampers. The Galway Christmas Market runs from the 12th of November to 22nd of December. Looking forward to finally meeting you all in person.