I did my homework. I researched yarn stores on woolworks before I left. I Googled. I read the helpful tips on Knitty.com. Being without a car, however, I was limited to what I could find within walking distance around Galway City.
I did find one shop, aptly named Yarn (in the Mill on O'Brien's Bridge Street). Here I had my first encounter with what Mr. Professor calls "the Irish way." The shop was closed, albeit temporarily, with a sign on the door saying "Back at 2:30." Ok, that's only an hour, I can find something to do. So I visited the second-hand shop nearby, walked to Sheridans Cheesemongers for a little window cheese shopping, and walked back to the store. 2:30, but no one around. So I walk back into town (it's raining at this point), check out the "Everything for 1 Euro" store, buy some trinkets for the Little Brewers and walk back to Yarn. 3:15. No one around. Well, at this point I was feeling rather annoyed, footsore and damp, so I gave up and walked back to the University.
I did finally find the shop open a few days later. It is quite small. Their main inventory is devoted to Debbie Bliss, with a selection of other knitting acoutrements such as handmade buttons. I picked up some interesting red tweed wool called "Killcarren." I don't know yet what it will be but it looked interesting.
There may be other shops within a drive of Galway but I did not have access to them. We took a drive out to Connemara one afternoon. On the way back we passed through Clifden. Around the bend of the road, rising like a lemon yellow mirage, was the Connemara Woolen Mills. Heaven! I thought. Alas, it was closed.
There are numerous shops in and around Galway City selling traditional Aran sweaters, some handmade, some of uncertain origin. I found the one in Clifden to have a more interesting selection and picked up a sweater in a lavendar wool/silk blend with overall simple cabling and a zipper up the front.