Galway was originally established as a fortress and has a long and chequered history both as a military outpost and a trading port with Spain, France and the West Indies. If you want the full background you can get it in Wikipedia.
What follows is a much more personal take on the city, based on visits over recent years. The text is largely dictated by the photographs and these in turn reflect aspects of the city that particularly struck me in my meanderings.
Each heading is followed by a short introduction to its theme. Click on the heading to access a separate page devoted to the theme.
City of the Tribes
Galway is known as the city of the tribes, since Cromwellian times. The tribes were, in fact, the merchant families of the city, who were largely disenfranchised after the city surrendered to Coote's siege in 1652. The term "tribe" was one of distain which was enthusiastically adopted by the families as a gesture of defiance.
Plans for a cathedral were in the making for many a long year, but it was only in the reign of Cross Michael (Bishop Michael Browne) that they came to fruition with the assistance of substantial USA funding (mainly from Boston, Mass.).
St. Nicholas's Church
The collegiate church of St. Nicholas goes way back and has a very interesting history, and many fascinating exhibits.
Around since the year dot
Lots of businesses like to proclaim their age as an indication of quality and reliability, particularly in a tourist setting. This can range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Lots of Irish
Many businesses use Irish to add a bit of charm and genuineness to their shopfronts. Granted, this area is on the borders of a (rapidly diminishing) gaeltacht, but much of the Irish in signage comes from neither the linguistic origins of the proprietor nor the linguistic needs of the customer.
Street Names in Irish
I just can't resist this stuff, wherever in Ireland I go. The standard is generally appalling.
Galway is crawling with souvenir shops and tons of what is on sale is just tack: leprechauns, lame Irish jokes, crummy international adaptations. There is also a lot of genuine craft work and some better class souvenirs. A series of vernacular T shirts caught my fancy in Fallers.
A theatrical/tourist ambience pervades the city centre and in particular the pedestrian areas. Galway has some claim to be the cultural capital of Ireland.
Medieval meets the Shopping Arcade
A very interesting example of a modern shopping development which both restored, and is capitalising on, part of the original medieval city wall and shoemakers tower.
Galway has always had strong foreign influences, from the Spaniards of yore to today's economic migrants from the Easternmost reaches of the EU.
Memories of Things Past
Just a few unrelated items that reminded me of things past.
Definitely not DUBLIN
The time has long gone when Dublin ran on separate time and it was worth Galway's while knowing it. But the signs of a temporally differentiated past are still preserved in the city of the tribes. Should I smile or take offence. I'll settle for the smile.
And then the fog came in from the sea and the night was magic.