Galway city is unique among Irish cities because of the strength of its Irish language, music, song and dancing traditions - it is often referred to as the 'Bilingual Capital of Ireland'. The city is well known for its Irishness, and mainly due to the fact that it has on its doorstep the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area).
Town: Galway City
Scene: Peat and Turf Market
Date: circa 1905
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Read about Galway City below
Galway (official Irish name: Gaillimh) is the only city in the province of Connacht in Ireland and capital of County Galway. The city is located on the west coast of Ireland. In Irish, Galway is also called Cathair na Gaillimhe, which is a translation of 'City of Galway'.
The city takes its name from the Gaillimh river (River Corrib) that formed the western boundary of the earliest settlement, which was called Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe, or the fort at the bottom of the Gaillimh. The word Gaillimh means 'stony' as in 'stony river'. (Alternative, more mythical, derivations are given in History of Galway). The city also bears the nickname The City of the Tribes, because fourteen 'Tribes' (merchant families) led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period. The term Tribes was originally a derogatory phrase from Cromwellian times. The merchants would have seen themselves as English nobility, and hence were loyal to the King. Their uncertain reaction to the siege of Galway by Cromwellian forces earned them this label, which they subsequently adopted in defiance. The city's nickanme is: 'The town of the tribes'.
The population of the city was 71,983 at the most recent census in April 2006, making it the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, after Dublin and Cork. The Galway urban area is sixth largest on the island of Ireland (after Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick and Derry)
Dún Bun na Gaillimhe ('Fort at the Mouth (bottom) of the Gaillimh') was constructed in 1124, by the King of Connacht Tairrdelbach mac Ruaidri Ua Conchobair. A small settlement eventually grew up around this fort. During the Norman invasion of Connacht in the 1230s, Galway fort was capturted by Richard Mor de Burgh, who had led this invasion. As the de Burghs eventually became gaelicised the merchants of the town pushed for greater control over the walled city. This led to them gaining complete control over the city and the granting of mayoral status by the English crown in December 1484. Galway endured difficult relations with its Irish neighbours. A notice over the west gate of the city, completed in 1562 by Mayor Thomas Oge Martyn fitz William, stated 'From the Ferocious O'Flahertys may God protect us'. A bye-law forbade the native Irish (as opposed to Galway's Hiberno-Norman citizens) unrestricted access into Galway, saying 'neither O' nor Mac shall strutte nor swagger through the streets of Galway' without permission. During the Middle Ages, Galway was ruled by an oligarchy of fourteen merchant families (12 of Norman origin and 2 of Irish origin). These were the 'tribes' of Galway. The city throve on international trade. In the Middle Ages, it was the principal Irish port for trade with Spain and France. Christopher Columbus is known to have visited Galway, possibly stopping off on a voyage to Iceland or the Faroe Isles. He noted in the margin of one of his books that he had found evidence of land beyond the Atlantic Ocean in or near Galway in 1477. During the 16th and 17th centuries Galway remained loyal to the English crown for the most part, even during the Gaelic resurgence, perhaps for reasons of survival, yet by 1642 the city allied itself with the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. During the resulting Cromwellian conquest of Ireland Cromwellian forces captured the city after a nine month siege. At the end of the 17th century the city supported the Jacobites in the Williamite war in Ireland (it supported King James II of England against William of Orange) and was captured by the Williamites after a very short siege not long after the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. The great families of Galway were ruined, the city declined, and it did not fully recover until the great economic boom of the late twentieth century.
Irish language and culture
Galway city is unique among Irish cities because of the strength of its Irish language, music, song and dancing traditions - it is often referred to as the 'Bilingual Capital of Ireland'. The city is well known for its ‘Irishness? and mainly due to the fact that it has on its doorstep the Galway Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area). The language is visible on the city streets, with bilingual signage on display on shops and road signs, and can be heard by locals around the city. Irish theatre, TV and radio production and Irish music are an integral part of Galway city life, with both An Taibhdhearc, the National Irish Language Theatre, TG4 and Radio na Gaeltachta headquarters in Galway. This has brought an Irish-speaking young professional population to the city and county, and has generated a renewal of interest in the language and in language-related activities and social events.
Probably the finest medieval town house in Ireland, Lynch's Castle is in Shop Street; it is now a branch of the Allied Irish Bank.
The Church of Ireland St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church is the largest remaining medieval church still in use in Ireland. It was founded in 1320 and enlarged in the following two centuries. It is a particularly pleasant building in the heart of the old city. Its Roman Catholic counterpart, the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, which was consecrated in 1965, is a far larger, more imposing building constructed from limestone. It has an eclectic style, with renaissance dome, pillars and round arches, and a Romanesque portico that dominates the main facade ?an unusual feature in modern Irish church building. It was suggested by a church in the city of Salamanca in Spain. Not far from the cathedral stands the original quadrangle building of National University of Ireland, Galway which was erected in 1849 (during An Gorta Mór, the Great Famine) as one of the three colleges of the Queen's University of Ireland (along with Queen's University Belfast and University College Cork). The university holds the UNESCO archive of spoken material for the Celtic languages.
Annual events include the Celtic start of Spring festival Fleadh Imboilg (start of February), the Cúirt International Festival of Literature (April), the Galway Early Music Festival (May), the Galway Session traditional Irish music festival, the Salthill Air Show (June), the Galway Film Fleadh (July), the Project06 (July), which runs along the Galway Arts Festival (July), Galway Races horse racing festival (start of August), Galway Gay Pride Festival (end of August), Galway International Oyster Festival (September), the Galway Jazz Festival (October), the Babor?Galway International Arts Festival for Children (October) and the Tulca visual arts festival (November).
Galway has a permanent Irish language theatre located in the city centre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe, which has produced some of Ireland's most celebrated actors. The Druid Theatre Company has won international acclaim for its cutting edge production and direction.
Two higher education institutions are located in the city, the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. The institute of technology also has a campus in Castlebar County Mayo.
The offices of the Central Applications Office are also located in the city, this is the clearing house for undergraduate college and university applications in the Republic of Ireland; a related organisation, the Postgraduate Applications Centre processes some taught postgraduate courses.
Galway has a magnificent and heterogeneous sporting heritage. Sports range from horse racing, Gaelic games, Soccer and Rugby to Rowing, Motorsport, Greyhound racing and many more. The Galway Races are known worldwide and are the highlight of the Irish horse racing calendar. Over the years it has grown into an annual festival lasting seven days. In Motorsport, the Galway International Rally was the first international rally to be run from the republic of Ireland. Throughout its history it has attracted many star drivers from all over the world. The 2007 event was won by twice World Rally Champions Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen.
The city has many hurling and gaelic football teams at all levels; match times and venues are listed in local newspapers, such as the Galway Advertiser. Major football and hurling matches take place at Pearse Stadium in the city. The stadium is also the home of the Salthill Knocknacarra Gaelic Athletic Association club which won the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship in 2006 for the first time. Galway also has an Association Football (Soccer) team, Galway United in the League of Ireland. Galway is constantly striving to improve the situation for youth football in Ireland. The most recent effort being in the form of The Umbro Galway Cup, which is held annually at the home of Salthill Devon F.C.. There are two Senior rugby union teams in the city Galwegians RFC and Corinthians RFC, as well as provincial Connacht Rugby who play in the Magners (Celtic) League who host their matches at the Galway Sportsground. Sailing on both sea and lake are popular, as is rowing in the River Corrib with five clubs providing the necessary facilities and organising rowing competitions.