I recommend starting your Irish vacation in the "West of Ireland" and Galway is the center of the West of Ireland. For the real novice, Galway City is in Galway County and is on the West Coast of Ireland, the Atlantic coast of Ireland. It is a 2 or 3 hour bus or car ride from Dublin on the East coast and a 1 hour bus or car ride North from Shannon airport.
Many people throughout the world have heard of Galway, and like me, assume it is a relatively large city; it is not. Galway is a city or town of less than 80,000 people. Some say it is the cultural center of Ireland, even though it is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Ireland. During the rein of the Norman Kings, it was considered "Beyond the Pale" as Galway and the Province of Connacht were the center of the opposition to the Normans (English). Even today, the primary language for many is still Gaelic or Irish and not English.
Galway is a old but vibrant city with an energy fed by the university students and the tourist trade.The vibrancy and energy provides a large number of places to eat, drink, and be merry, the next blog, and a large number of places to see and stay, the 2nd blog on Galway. Galway County provides the third blog .... or fourth if it gets too long.