County Galway is situated in the west of Ireland, an area renowned for its music, culture and crafts.
Galway also supports a fairly large Gaeltacht - an area where the Irish language is spoken and studied, and the country's traditional culture is preserved. The importance of carrying on tradition is made visible by the numerous music and culture festivals hosted each year in Galway City and nearby communities.
County Galway is located in the province of Connaught, and is second in size to County Cork. It is named for its largest city and capital.
County Galway sits on the shores of Galway Bay, with its rugged seascapes and scenic islands. Walking is a popular activity, partly because there are so many beautiful outdoor attractions to enjoy.
Galway is a very popular tourist destination. Galway City is a vibrant city famous for its traditional music and its many festivals. This city has a wide range of restaurants and hotels and is famous for its nightlife.
County Galway Highlights
Galway City is a comfortable and engaging place, laid out in medieval design reminiscent of its most prosperous historical period. The medieval churches, especially those dedicated to St. Nicholas, are awe inspiring treasures to visit, and there are many interesting relics of the past to capture the imagination at Galway City Museum and Lynch's Castle.
The nearby villages of Spiddal and Claddagh are most enjoyable to visit. They offer opportunities to explore the many local crafts and displays of culture, and enjoy the Irish music played in the pubs and at the festivals, often by popular musicians who stop by to visit the pubs for a spirited evening of song and dance.
Outdoor attractions are numerous in County Galway, from the natural beauty of Connemara National Park, where visitors can enjoy the native plants and wildlife of western Ireland, to the wild isolation of the Aran Islands, reached by an exhilarating boat excursion.
Ancient Celtic spiritual tradition can be explored in depth at Brigit's Garden, where the creatively designed exhibits capture the essence of the cycle of life and celebrate the changing seasons with plant arrangements, water and innovative sculpture.
County Galway History
The area around Galway City was once home to the legendary "Tribes", fourteen families who were ousted from the city by the Anglo-Norman arrivals in the 1200s. These families continued to live on the outskirts, raiding the homes and establishments of the new merchant citizens, who resorted to building castles and fortified dwellings in an effort to fend off the angry locals.
The medieval centuries were some of the most prosperous in the trading and shipping locations along Galway Bay, but authentic evidence of human occupation dates back to 3000B.C., in the form of Iron Age dwellings that can be seen on the Aran Islands. Traveling to these ancient islands transports the visitor to a place where the passage of time seems to have stopped completely.
Look at the buildings of County Galway, and you will see the accumulation of the centuries of architectural influences contributed by the visiting tradesmen and fishermen that came from Scandinavia, Spain, and other seafaring European countries. Its original Celtic name means 'Town of the Rivers'.
Popular Galway Surames
Common surnames in County Galway include:
Roundstone, County Galway by Mariano Colantoni