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Galway City Ireland
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Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, sits on the River Corrib. It is a young and vibrant place, yet ancient and historic. Although its population is only about 70,000 it is the fastest growing city in Europe. Galway city, known as the 'city of the tribes' with its seaside suburb of Salthill, is an important tourist centre and a gateway to the scenic areas of the county.

In the 1400's, there began in Galway the rule of the 'Tribes', as the leading fourteen families were called. Their names were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Ffont, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerritt. Members of these families served as Burgesses, and as Mayors of Galway up to the capture of Galway by a Cromwellian army in 1652. 

The sun setting over Galway Bay near Galway City

Eyre Square Galway City - renamed to John F Kennedy Square

The city charter was presented in 1484 by King Richard III and, both prior to and since that time, Galway city has been a thriving centre of commerce and trade for the West of Ireland. There is scientific evidence of human habitation in this area dating back almost 10,000 years, where archeological digs discovered cooking areas in Gentian Hill on the coastal outskirts of the city. A paleolithic axe-head was discovered on the Aran Islands off the Galway coast and dated over 300,000 years old. However its arrival in this spot is unclear. The busy port area once saw large sailing ships bound for the Americas and was 'home' to the Spanish Armada during its western voyages. Galway was famous at that time for it's involvement in the wine trade, particularly Spanish wines, and the Spanish influence is retained in an area of the city called the Spanish Arch.
The Spanish Arch Galway City

The Claddagh Ring a symbol of Galway City

The Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh Ring (above right) originated in the fishing village situated near the "shore" or "Claddagh" of Galway Bay. The Claddagh outside the City Walls, and further separated by the River Corrib, was exclusive community or fisher-folk forbidden to use spade or hoe and ruled by a periodically-elected "King" whose sole distinguishing mark was his right to use a white sail on his fishing hooker. The ring shows two hands holding a heart which wears a crown. This motif is explained in the phrase: "Let Love and Friendship reign", and ideal poesy for a wedding ring used by a small community for over four hundred years. This distinctive design is associated with one of the Tribes of Galway, the Joyce family. Margaret Joyce married Domingo de Rona, a wealthy Spaniard, who, when he died, left her his fortune, which she subsequently used to build bridges in the Province of Connacht.
More on the Claddagh Ring
The Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch (above left) stands on the left bank of the Corrib, where Galway's river meets the sea. The arch is the remainder of a 16th century bastion, added to the town's walls to protect merchant ships from looting. At this time, it was known as Ceann an Bhalla (Head of the Wall).  Its current title Spanish Arch dates from the last century - a reference to the former merchant trade with Spain, whose galleons often docked under its protection.

Famous People

Walter Macken - writer of short stories, novels and plays. Originally an actor, principally with the Tadhbhearc in Galway, and The Abbey Theatre, he played lead roles on Broadway in M.J. Molloy's The King of Friday's Men and his own play Home is the Hero. He also acted in films, notably in Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow.



Towns & Localities in County Galway

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