History of Galway

Galway Image 2 

County Galway is a western county of Ireland, in the province of Connacht. The county is named for the capital City of Galway near the west coast and it contains the largest lake in the Irish Republic, as well as the Twelve Bens, Maum Turk, and Slieve Aughty mountain ranges. Co. Galway is bordered to the south by Co. Clare and in the north by Co. Roscommon, while part of it shares the Connemara peninsula with Co. Mayo. The Aran and Irishbofin Islands are also part of Co. Galway. Co. Galway also has the largest Gaeltacht Irish-speaking region in Ireland, with more than twenty per cent of the county population residing in it.

Shell Middens and other examples of human waste have been found in the region of Co. Galway dating back from 5000 BC. Originally, there were various kingdoms making up the land, ruled over by different tribes, such as Aidne, Máenmaige, Maigh Seóla, Soghain and Uí Maine, who's leaders were all given the High King title around the fifth and sixth centuries AD.

Galway City grew up as a result of the King of Connacht, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair, constructing a fort called Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe in 1124 which was held by the O'Halloran clan, and then the O'Flahertys right up until the Anglo-Norman invasion of Connacht in the 1230s. It was besieged unsuccessfully for a week in 1230, but finally taken in 1232 by Richard Mor de Burgh.

The city stayed independent from the surrounding areas and governments, while its merchant families known as The Tribes of Galway traded with the rest of Ireland and Europe. Galway remained unique in being run by a conglomerate of middle-class merchants, rather than anyone of noble or royal blood, right up until the Tudor conquest of Ireland in the late sixteenth century. Next came the occupation by Oliver Cromwell and his New Model Army. All Catholics were expelled from the city and their houses seized and given to soldiers as payment.

The restoration of the eighteenth century brought hope to the people of Co. Galway, as they looked forward to recovering the prosperity they had enjoyed before, but the Penal Laws that hampered Catholics in their efforts to own property or enjoy basic civil rights made this difficult until around 1750, when trade and industry grew until the Great Famine of 1846 to 1848.

The twentieth century saw Co. Galway on the road to recovery once more, though. Galway City expanded to include several surrounding villages as suburbs. The county is now famous for its Atlantic coastline, friendly people and cultural significance. Co. Galway and Galway City are famous for their contributions to music and the arts, both traditional and modern, while the Connemara region is home to many natural or historic points of outstanding beauty.




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