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Galway History, Ireland

Galway, in western Ireland, is one of the most scenic and most colorful cities in the country. Known since ancient times as the city of the tribes, now more than ever this name is appropriate for Galway. The city is a cultural melting pot, with a large number of immigrants, tourists and international students. Galway has quite a fascinating history, and its many monuments and old architecture are the heritage of the city’s past. After Dublin and Cork, Galway is the third largest city in Ireland, and due to the natural beauty of the surrounding area but also its own charms, the city is almost always chock-full of visitors. Galway is the perfect tourist city: it has historical monuments, beautiful architecture, great pubs and a lively nightlife. This Galway History Guide will tell you a few words about the exciting history of this charming city.

Galway History Guide - Foundation and Early History

Galway was named after the river that runs through the city, Gaillimh. The city was founded in 1124 by the first High King of Ireland west of Shannon. The budding settlement was attacked several times by the Danes of Limerick, and it was captured around 1230 by William Mor de Burgh, who became King of Connacht. Under the Burghs, Galway flourished and in the 14th century, the town petitioned the British Crown for independence.

A large number of English-sympathizing merchants formed the economic base of the town, and these enterprising people did not like the fact that the local lords tried to control their business. Independence made Galway become rather isolated from the neighboring Gaels and Normans, and thus the town developed a culture of its own.

In the 16th century, the native Irish were forbidden to enter the city. Galway was a small kingdom rather than a town and it was ruled by fourteen powerful Anglo-Norman mercantile families, hence the name “The city of tribes”. The city traded with the French and the Spanish, and became one of the richest in Ireland. Its decline started during the Irish Rebellion, when Galway supported the Catholic Confederates. After being captured by Cromwell’s forces, the city slipped into a harsh economic decline that lasted about 300 years.

Galway History Guide - Modern History and Present

Galway lost many of its inhabitants during the Irish Famine of 1840, and it was hit much worse than any other Irish towns. However, during the second half of the 19th century, the city saw some improvement with the construction of the university and the railway. Galway unavoidably played a significant role in the Irish War of Independence, as it became the headquarters of the British armed forces. A few upheavals marred the situation in Galway during the Irish Civil War, but except for a few buildings in the city centre, the city escaped unscathed. In the 1970’s, however, parts of the city were destroyed by a fire. A portion of Eyre Square, the most popular park in the city center, was completely wreaked. Nevertheless, nowadays Galway is one of the most pleasant and interesting cities in Ireland and a great holiday destination.

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