County Galway.


County Galway from Samuel Lewis' Topographical Directory of Ireland 1837

Galway is the second largest county in area in the Republic of Ireland. The name comes from the Irish gailimh: 'stony river'. It lies at the centre of the west coast of Ireland. The western third of the county is the rugged, scenic area of Connemara, noted for its ponies. East Galway is mainly a fertile lowland, well suited to agriculture.

At the boundary between these two contrasting areas is the city of Galway, the largest town in the county and in the province of Connacht. The Atlantic Ocean forms Galway's western boundary, with the huge inlet of Galway Bay. The River Shannon which is renowned as a idealic cruising area, separates it from Offaly and Tipperary to the east. Mayo is to the north, Roscommon to the northeast, and Clare to the south. Galway is 150 kilometer's from east to west and 80 kilometer's from north to south.

The landscape of east Galway is mainly lowland, except where it rises to over 300 meters (994 Ft) in the Slieve Aughty Mountains in the south. The mountains are sandstone, but the lowland lies on limestone. Lowland soils are generally thin and dry and farmers use the stones to build walls enclosing the fields. There are some peat bogs near the Shannon and its tributary, the River Suck. The River Clare drains most of the western part of the lowland to Lough (lake) Corrib. Its outlet to the sea is the short River Corrib, on which Galway City is sited.

Galway has a Gaeltacht area, where people speak Gaelic (Irish) as an everyday means of communication. The Gaeltacht is mainly in the west of the county and includes the Arran Islands. The population of the Galway Gaeltacht is around 30,000, the largest in Ireland. The headquarters of the government department Roinn na Gaeltachta, the development organization Udaras na Gaeltachta, and the broadcasting station Radio na Gaeltachta are located. Many children from other parts of Ireland go to the Gaeltacht in the summer in order to attend Irish language schools. Many aspects of traditional Irish life have survived in the Gaeltacht, especially on the Aran Islands.

Service industries account for half of all employment in Galway. Galway City is a major service centre. The service industries, particularly education and health, employ as many as the manufacturing industry. University College, Galway, is part of the National University of Ireland. There is also a regional technical college and a large regional hospital. Retail and wholesale distribution is the second most important category of service industries. Other services include administration and defense, financial services, and transport.

Tourism is of great importance to Galway,especially in the city and in Connemara. The Galway City suburb of Salthill is a major seaside resort. Salthill has many hotels, and guest housed and serves as the tourist's gateway to Connemara. The mountain and coastal scenery attracts many visitors and anglers. The government has established the Connemara National Park to conserve some of the landscape and wildlife. Major annual equestrian events in the county include the Galway races, the Connemara pony show in Clifden, and the Ballinasloe horse fair.

One of Ireland's major fishing ports is Rossaveal, in west Galway. Shellfish are particularly important along the Galway coast. The area of forestry is increasing, mainly in the uplands. There is a forest park at Portumna. Peat is cut for fuel and there is a small peat fired power station at Screeb, in Connemara. Craft workers make ornaments from the mottled green Connemara marble, extracted from local quarries.

The rugged landscapes of west Galway with their peat bogs and heath lands contrast with the gentle, green landscapes to the east of Lough Corrib. The land rises to 700 meters in the Twelve Bens and Maumturk Mountains. The highest peaks contain the mineral quartzite, but there are other ancient rocks in the vicinity. A low-lying area to the south lies mainly on granite. The coastline is fairly straight along Galway Bay, but in the west it is deeply indented with many bays and small islands. The Aran Islands, formed of bare limestone, lie at the entrance to Galway Bay. Most of the settlements in west Galway are along the coast.

Claddagh Ring.

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish design originating in a fishing village called Claddagh just outside Galway town, now swallow up's urban sprawl. The design as can be seen is two hands presenting a crowned heart.

Claddagh rings were widely worn by woman in the west of Ireland, the ring was often the most valuable article the family possessed. They were usually handed down from mother to daughter. The tradition was that if the girl wore the ring on her right hand with the heart pointed towards the nail, she was open to offers of marriage. And if she wore it on the left hand with the heart pointed away from the nail she was engaged to be married.


Patrick Pearse.

Set alone on a little hill overlooking a small Lough is a tiny whitewashed cottage. It was built in 1910 by Patrick Pearse (1879-1916) And used by his for holidays and to improve his Irish

He was president of the provisional government of the Irish Republic in 1916.

More information abour Patrick Pearse

Lady Augusta Gregory.

In 1896 while on a walking tour W B Yeates met the wealthy widow Lady Gregory. Had this meeting not taken place the Irish Literary Revival which resulted from it may not have happened.

Born Isabella Augusta Persse, she spent her youth at Roxborough House 8 miles from Coole. In 1880 she married Sir William Gregory, a man 35 years her senior. He had returned home to Coole house after a career in India.

After his death in 1882 Lady Gregory who had a keen interest in literature and Irish folklore pursued these interests, she taught herself Irish by visiting local people and talking to them, while doing this she collected stories and traditions. She wrote poems, short stories and about 40 plays. It was in no small way thanks to her that Dublin's Abbey theater was formed.

One of her books 'Lady Gregory's Complete Irish Mythology' published by Bounty Books, can be thoroughly recommended to anyone wishing to explore the rich heritage of Irish Mythology.

She was a generous woman possessed of great energy and talent, she died in 1932 and is buried in the new cemetery.

Queen Maeve.

Maeve (Medb.) The legendary Queen of Connaught plays the role of an anarchic goddess of war and fertility in Irish folklore and mythology. There are many stories in which she features, these are usually to do with the rivalry between Ulster and Connaught and involving the great Ulster warriors Cuchulainn, Conall and Laoire. (See also Irish Myths)

According to Irish mythology no king could rule in Connaught unless he were married to Maeve who it was believed held the key to the sovereignty in her person.

The illustration on the right is a panel on the outside of the Gundrestrup Cauldron found in Denmark in 1891 It is said to be 1st century BC and represent Queen Maeve.

Maeve's most famous exploit is the invasion of Ulster to capture the famous brown bull of Cuailbne 'Cooley' in it she captures the bull and the Ulster hero Cuhullain is killed.

Ulster's revenge came some time later when she is killed by Forbai son of king Conchobhar 'Connor' Mac Nessa. Forbai discovered that Maeve bathed in a pool, he visited the pool and measured the distance from a hiding place to where she bathed. On returning to Eamain Macha in Ulster he practiced with a slingshot until he could knock an apple from a pole at the same distance. He made his way back to Galway and waited until Maeve came to the pool, there he struck her on the forehead with a single shot, thus Ulster was avenged.

Tourist Information
Aras Failte
Forster Street
Co Galway
Tel +353 (0)91 537 700
E Mail
Web Site

Read about The Arran Islands from Lewis Topographical Directory of Ireland.

Read about Galway in 1837 from Lewis Topographical Directory of Ireland.



Interactine map of County Galway.
Print the county map below
and a list of places to see
View a large scale map of Ireland

Lynch Law.

The phrase Lynch law is derived from an event which took place in 1493 when the Lord Mayor of the town hanged his son Walter for murder.



Google Map of County Galway.