"Galway Girl" is a song recorded by English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran. The song is a collaboration between Sheeran and Irish folk band Beoga, and is heavily influenced by Irish traditional music. On Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March 2017, Sheeran announced the song as the third single from his 2017 album ÷, accompanied by a lyric video.
The song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and number one on the Irish Singles Chart when it became available for download and streaming upon the release of the album.
Sheeran wrote and recorded the song together with the Irish band Beoga; the song incorporates parts of the tune "Minute 5" from Beoga's album How to Tune a Fish (2011). They decided to write this song after they had finished another song together at his house, and had some free time.
"I came up with this song with Foy, and Johnny and Amy. We were recording in Suffolk and we were just sitting in the garden, and we had Beoga, this Irish folk band, come and [record] some other songs. And I was kinda like: Beoga would be here for two or three days, it would be a shame to waste them, shall we try and write another song? ... They have a song called "Minute 5", which is that riff. So I just said: "Can you try that on it?" And they did, and it sounded brilliant, so we just kept it."
In an interview with The Irish Times, Sheeran said that the opening line of the song, "She played the fiddle in an Irish band", was inspired by Niamh Dunne of Beoga. However, the rest of the song was made up and not about anyone in particular (Dunne is from County Limerick and married an Irishman).
Sheeran was aware that Steve Earle had recorded a song with the same title in 2000; however, in a BBC interview, Sheeran said that his version is an original, and not a cover of Earle's song. He also stated, "I actually tried to find another [title]. I did Wexford Girl and [Clonakilty] Girl and Cork Girl... none of them worked. But the whole point of folk songs is taking inspiration from the past and making something new – so people will just have to deal with it.". In a 2017 Dublin concert Sheeran played first verse and chorus of Steve Earle's song together with Beoga, followed by his own.
The song was announced as the third single from the album on Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March 2017, and it was added to BBC Radio 2's playlist on 18 March.
According to Sheeran, he had to fight his record label to keep the song on his album: "They were really, really against 'Galway Girl', because apparently folk music isn't cool." The song went on to become the third most streamed song from ÷ on Spotify.
Amy Mulvaney from the Irish Independent gave the song a positive review, calling it "Definitive proof of just how much he (Ed) likes Ireland" and wrote "With mentions of Grafton Street, "Carrickfergus", fiddles, céilis, an Irish band and trad tunes, there's no denying just how much the pop star loves our fair isle, and can see this becoming a sure fire hit over the next few weeks". Jordan Bassett of NME described "Galway Girl" as a "stomping Irish hip-hop jig that recounts dancing a merry [cèilidh] with the girl of your dreams while Van Morrison parps away in the background."
Craig Jenkins of Vulture found it to be an "upbeat R&B love song with Celtic folk accents", with a "guitar breakdown that sounds like a nod to Oasis’ “Wonderwall”. Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone referred to the song as Sheeran's "own spin on the Irish drinking song", and that his "musical history lesson is both well-timed and rip-roaringly fun, another example of his still-evolving craft." The song has been ranked as one of worst songs of 2017 by Time and New York Post.
The song entered the UK chart at number two behind "Shape of You" when it became available for download on the album release. As of September 2017[update], the song has sold 1.2 million combined units in the United Kingdom, with 246,000 in actual sales and 0.95 million in streams.
In Ireland, it debuted at number one on the singles chart. It also reached the number one chart position in Scotland and Slovenia. In the United States, the song peaked at number 53, and has sold 210,813 copies as of October 2017[update].
On 11 April 2017, Sheeran shot the POV music video for "Galway Girl" in Galway, Ireland and filmed it himself on a Sony A6500 on body-mounted Ikan gimbal rigged to a Steadicam vest. The video was directed by Jason Koenig, who also directed the music video for "Shape of You", and director of photography Johnny Valencia. Galway Girl features Irish actress Saoirse Ronan. It was uploaded to Sheeran's official YouTube channel on 3 May 2017.
Sheeran's new tattoo filmed in the video is misspelled "Galway Grill".
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