Galway is a beautiful city located on the western seaboard of Ireland. So beautiful is it, that it was once described as the “Venice of the West” by well-known Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. Galway is a vibrant colourful city, recognised world wide for its friendly people and welcoming atmosphere and once visited, you’ll keep wanting to return!
According to Hardiman’s ‘History of Galway’, the city started out as a tiny fishing village protected by a fort at the mouth of a river. The Annals of the Four Masters (17th century history of Ireland) also records a fort at the mouth of the river in 1124, which was built by Turlough O’ Connor, the King of Connacht.
It’s not quite sure how the city got its name. Hardiman suggests that it arises from the term ‘Gall’, a name the Irish people would call foreigners in ancient Ireland. The English settlers who arrived here were later called ‘Clann-na Gall’ which meant Foreign clan. This later evolved to the name Ballinagall or Gallibh which translates as Foreigners town. It’s also said that the name ‘Gallimh’ means Galway River, Gallimh taking its name from the daughter of a Fir Bolg chieftan who drowned in the river.
It’s from this river that Galway city got its name and then in turn Galway county which was named after the city.
In 1232, Richard de Burgh (a powerful Anglo-Norman baron) captured the town from the O’Flaherty’s, a dominant Gaelic clan who were “holding the fort” for the O’Connor King of Connacht. It’s recorded in history, that over the next century the area thrived under the de Burghs (Burkes) and the once small fishing village became a small walled town. Galway prospered and grew due to its location on the west coast of Ireland and soon it was trading animal pelts and fish with Spain, France and the Carribean in return for fine cloths, fruit, oil and wines.
During Medieval Times, Galway city was ruled by no less than 14 families! It was ruled by 2 Irish and 12 anglo-norman tribes and so this is how Galway became known as the ‘City of the Tribes’.
The 17th century English wars had a devastating affect on the town. However things looked up again for the town during Victorian times. In 1850 a railway line was established and made Galway readily accessible and another major boost for the city was the establishment of Queen’s University.
These events have moulded Galway to the city it is today. Historic attractions to visit include the Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, Lynch’s Castle, the Claddagh and the Spanish Arch.