Galway County

The name “Galway” derives from the Gaillimh river, which was named after the daughter of a chieftain who drowned in its waters. The city of Galway was founded in the 12th century by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family, following their conquest of the area. However, it was the 14 tribes, or merchant families, who came to dominate Galway’s social, political, and economic life in the Middle Ages, earning the city the nickname “City of the Tribes.” The remains of this era, including the city walls and Lynch’s Castle, still stand today as testaments to Galway’s medieval prosperity.

Galway’s history is also marked by its education and religious heritage, with St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, founded in the 14th century, being one of the oldest functioning medieval churches in Ireland. The establishment of the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 1845, further solidified the county’s reputation as a center of education and culture.

The cultural fabric of County Galway is rich and varied, shaped by centuries of music, literature, dance, and language. Galway is renowned for its strong tradition of Irish music and dance, with the city and county hosting sessions and ceilidhs that keep the traditional arts alive. The Galway Arts Festival and the Cúirt International Festival of Literature celebrate contemporary culture, drawing artists, writers, and performers from all over the world.

Connemara, with its breathtaking scenery and strong Gaelic traditions, is the heartland of the Irish language in Galway, where the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking regions) thrive. This area is a living museum of Gaelic culture, where the Irish language, music, and dance are part of daily life, preserving and promoting Ireland’s cultural heritage.

The Aran Islands, part of the Galway Gaeltacht, are particularly significant for their linguistic and cultural importance. The islands are home to some of the country’s most important archaeological sites, including Dún Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort that stands as a symbol of resilience and history.

County Galway’s culture is a celebration of its history, its natural beauty, and its people. It is a place where the past is always present, where traditions are cherished and continued, and where the spirit of Ireland’s west is embodied in every song, story, and dance.