Real music in a real pub.
The beauty of a dive bar is its relentless authenticity and its refusal to succumb to the tendency progress and change have to erase what came before. And while Tig Choili may not be a dive bar, it is very much an authentic and timeless experience in a part of Galway, Ireland, where that can sometimes be difficult to find.
Located along Galway’s densely trafficked High Street, Tigh Choili contrasts the tourist-oriented pubs and restaurants that dominate the area. Yes, absolutely the pub will be full of tourists on a given Saturday night, but the atmosphere is as authentic as it is electric.
Classic trademark of any Irish pub is the nearly unnavigable layout when a crowd is present, and Tigh Choili is no exception as the main path snakes through the space. Pro tip, there’s a second entrance at the back of the pub and many a visit this reviewer has actually exited the front door to enter the back door as a means of getting to the bathroom when the main path is clogged.
Traditional music is the calling card here, both planned and spontaneous, and it draws a densely-packed crowd to the stage area just inside the front door. A centrally-located bar allows for near total access to the crowd, and it plays the classic dive bar card with signed dollar bills stapled to every accessible surface. Just out of reach of the drunken patrons, the remainder of the bar area is dominated by patches and stickers depicting seemingly every armed service and remote pub around the world.
The remaining wall space throughout the interior features classic Irish staple, vintage photographs and news clippings speaking to the heritage of the bar, the city and the country. Above, classic stained glass-style chandeliers give off that perfect dive bar / Irish pub glow that perfectly complements a night of relentless pints. And front is center is maybe the bar’s best piece of light flair, with a classic Chieftains Guinness sign, maybe the most Irish bar accessory of all time.
While Tigh Choili may not be the classic grimy, out-of-the-way dive bar, it is a true Irish pub refuge amid some of the cavernous downtown Galway clubs, offering an authentic environment and even more authentic music scene.