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It Takes a Village: An Eclectic Irish Restaurant in Galway Gets a Refresh

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It Takes a Village: An Eclectic Irish Restaurant in Galway Gets a Refresh

March 7, 2017

When we first spotted Ard Bia at Nimmos, a tiny restaurant serving thoughtful plant-forward dishes on the River Corrib in Galway, Ireland, we fell for its offhand style: mismatched Thonet chairs, silver candlesticks dripping with wax, eclectic art on the walls. (See: Irish Eclecticism at Ard Bia in Galway.) Now, thanks to the talents of local Galway artisans and the vision of Triona Lillis and restaurant owner Aoibheann MacNamara (together, they curate The Tweed Project, a slow fashion line), the restaurant has a brighter, more open feel—original eclecticism intact. Here’s a look inside.

Photography courtesy of Ard Bia.

in a dining nook, straw hats become wall decor above a sawhorse style table. 9
Above: In a dining nook, straw hats become wall decor above a sawhorse-style table.

“The inspirations were fresh, clean lines,” Lillis says. “Plus local materials and craftspeople. Many heads, hands, and hearts made it happen.” The walls, flooring, lighting, and some furniture were given a revamp with a bright, Nordic aesthetic as the goal. (“Not industrial,” Lillis says.) Left as-is: The restaurant’s casual bunches of wildflowers and tarnished silver candlesticks.

a small vignette, wildflowers included, on a windowsill overlooking galway bay. 10
Above: A small vignette, wildflowers included, on a windowsill overlooking Galway Bay.
the original mismatched dining chairs remain. 11
Above: The original mismatched dining chairs remain.

MacNamara envisioned a wall of locally-sourced wood to add warmth to the space; the team paneled one wall in untreated local larch.

Above: Houseplants in found mugs and cups line the windowsills.
a bright banquette in one corner of the restaurant. 14
Above: A bright banquette in one corner of the restaurant.

MacNamara displays a rotating collection of local artists’ work. Out-of-the-way shelves above the banquettes double as storage for wine, coffee, and cookbooks.

&#8\2\20;a bevy of galway talent was enlisted to create key elements,&# 15
“A bevy of Galway talent was enlisted to create key elements,” Lillis says. The ceramic pendant lamps were handmade by Martha Williamson, a ceramicist in the nearby fishing town of Spiddal.
 the team opened up the original stairwell, creating a sense of openness and  16
Above: The team opened up the original stairwell, creating a sense of openness and light throughout the bar area.

Built-in shelving by a local craftsman makes use of the small space around the bar.

cushions upholstered in gray donegal tweed, made by local artisan giusy degano, 17
Above: Cushions upholstered in gray Donegal tweed, made by local artisan Giusy Degano, soften the original banquettes.
blankets and bags from the tweed project add texture and are available for purc 18
Above: Blankets and bags from The Tweed Project add texture and are available for purchase.
market style built in shelves and a locally made high top chestnut table replac 19
Above: Market-style built-in shelves and a locally made high-top chestnut table replaced a low dining table, but the original stained glass doorway was left as-is.

The restaurant sells blankets and soft goods by the Tweed Project and locally made provisions.

N.B. Also check out the Ard Bia Cookbook and MacNamara’s own home, available to rent via Airbnb.

For more of our favorite Irish haunts, see our posts:

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