Galway is an old city, steeped in history with an interesting past
. From medieval street to modern thoroughfares, there is much to see and do in Galway
as regards times passed.
One of the earliest monuments is the Turoe Stone, near Loughrea. It is a granite stone featuring “La Tene” celtic art, and dates from c.200 B.C. This curvilinear art acts as a reminder of Ireland’s Celtic past when the La Tene Celts came from Switzerland to Ireland and brought with them language, writing, folklore and music.
Ireland was celebrated as the Land of Saints and Scholars from the 5th to the 10th century, and Galway was no exception. Some of the Christian Saints in Galway included Saint Enda in Inishmore
, St Columcille, St Feichin in Cong, St. Rock in Little Killary, and Saint Sourney in Inishmore.
The Normans came to Ireland in 1169 and began to occupy Connacht in the early 12th century. By the 17th century, Galway City
was ruled by fourteen wealthy Anglo-Norman merchant families who adopted the term “Tribes of Galway”. Galway City is now known and “City of The Tribes”, and the names of these fourteen tribes are now represented on roundabouts in Galway City.
However, elsewhere in the county, battles raged. The Battle of Aughrim was fought on the 12th of July, 1691 and was the last great land battle in Ireland. It involved the Williamite and Jacobite armies, and the result of the battle changed the course of Irish history. The Williamites were victorious, but the human casualties were high. It is estimated that 9,000 soldiers lost their lives on that fateful day, making it one of the bloodiest battles in Ireland’s history.
The 18th century in Galway was more peaceful, with upper class, landowning Protestants starting to build Big Houses and Demenses
in the county instead of defensive castles. Traces of this can be found throughout County Galway - Aughnanure Castle is a fine example of a 15th century tower house, while Portumna Castle
is a wonderful example of a 17th century fortified house built by local landowners, the Clanricarde Burkes.
Like many other counties in Connacht, the Famine in 1845 saw thousands die, and thousands more emigrate. However, today Galway is a thriving county, and Galway city is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.