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County Galway, along with its namesake city Galway, is located on the western coast of the Republic of Ireland. With a wide variety of islands, lakes, and mountains, the territory is known for its outdoor attractions and activities. Golfing, cycling, horseback riding, watersports, and sea angling are ventures that are frequently undertaken by visitors to the county. Additionally, Galway City is known for hosting an average of 122 events annually, which has earned it the nickname of "the festival capital of Ireland."[7] The Gulf Stream has a noticeable effect on County Galway's climate, given its position on the western coast of the country. Both winters and summers in the region are described as "mild," and temperatures rarely extend beyond a range of 6 to 16 degrees Celsius. The "mildest [time] of the year," however, is described to be from June to August.[3] Though a sizeable proportion of the county's population lives in Galway itself, there are also multiple other settlements nearby, such as Tuam, Ballinasloe, Loughrea, and Oranmore.

What Galway is known for

Acting as one of the various territories in the Republic of Ireland, County Galway is home to just over 250,000 people and numerous communities other than Galway City. It is estimated that around 20% of the county's population live in the Gaeltacht, which are Irish-speaking districts in the nation. Most of this population (48,000 people) can be found in the largest single Irish-speaking region in the country, which encompasses land near Galway city and extends to Connemara. Including those directly living in a Gaeltacht or not, 84,000 people in the area reported fluency in Irish during the 2016 census.[1]

The city of Galway, for which County Galway is named, is the sixth most populous city in Ireland and the fourth most populated within the Republic of Ireland. Gaillimh is the Irish name of the city and has adopted the nickname "City of Tribes" because of multiple merchant families' impact on the region leading up to the Hiberno-Norman period. Much of the town's development can be traced back to a fortification created by the King of Connacht in 1124. As the years passed, Galway became somewhat of a trading port, and today the city's economy is influenced by tourism. Local community groups host a variety of festivals, events, and celebrations, with one of the more notable ones being the Galway Arts Festival.[2]

Galway takes pride in a number of facts pertaining to the city or the county overall. For example, Christopher Columbus visited Galway in 1477. Only four years prior to this, in 1473, the town was nearly destroyed by a fire. The aforementioned festivals and events hosted by the city have also gained it the status of "the festival capital of Ireland" due to the fact that an average of 122 events are hosted in the village each year.[5] Apart from the festivals that take place in the region, visitors can participate in numerous attractions spread across County Galway. Golf clubs are dotted across the landscape, including Ballinasloe Golf Club, Galway Bay Golf Resort, Curra West Golf Club, and Gort Golf Club, to name a few. Sea angling is a potential venture due to Galway's location next to a bay that leads to the Atlantic Ocean. Pollack, bass, flatfish, cod, and blue sharks have been caught near Galway, with options available for both experienced and brand new fishers. Finally, County Galway is home to venues for paintball, theater visits, cycling, horse riding, karting, and watersports.[7]


Home to the Na Beanna Beola (Twelve Bens) mountain range, in addition to the Maum Turk mountains, County Galway's topography contains many cliffs, hills, and lakes. The Republic of Ireland's largest lake, Lough Corrib, can be found in the county, though other smaller lakes are also present. Galway City itself looks out over a bay which in turn leads to the Atlantic Ocean, offering residents and visitors various ocean-based activities and professions. Galway's position on the western region of Ireland allows it to be "directly influenced by the Gulf Stream," causing the temperatures of the territory to remain relatively mild throughout the year. "Temperature extremes are rare and short-lived," though rainfall (or at least cloud cover) tends to be more frequent than sunshine.[1]

More specifically, Galway City has an "oceanic" climate, with its coldest month being January. July is the warmest month of the year for County Galway, on average, seeing temperatures near 16 degrees Celsius. Even in the winter, temperatures are often centered around 6 degrees Celsius and rarely drop below -5 degrees. Visitors to the territory are recommended to arrive anywhere from June to August due to it being "the mildest [time] of the year." Outdoor activities are slightly more accessible because of the warmer weather, though bringing an umbrella or other rain gear is encouraged.[3]

County Galway's borders include a number of islands, such as Inishbofin, and the northern region of the bay that contains the Aran Islands. The Connemara National Park and Moycullen Bogs are both located in the county. Galway shares county boundaries with May, Roscommon, Offaly, Tipperary, and Clare. Many roads pass through or nearby the city of Galway, including N59, N84, N83, N67, and motorway M6. This latter road can be used to travel across the entire landmass of Ireland in order to reach the country's capital, Dublin, to the east.

As a result of the high quantity of lakes and other bodies of water, County Galway is home to a mix of geographical environments. Grasslands, mud flats, salt marshes, lagoons, and sea cliffs are a few examples of natural habitats in the region, acting as homes to birds, small mammals, and a diversity of plant species. Freshwater habitats of the area allow for fish species such as Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey, pollan, and white-clawed crayfish to flourish. Many of these species require "very high water quality" in order to survive, which is possible due to the "relatively good quality and unpolluted" nature of the habitats.[6]


County Galway's first recorded settlers constructed a fort in 1124, though it wouldn't be until the 13th century that the city of Galway would be established. This occurred in 1232, spearheaded by a baron named Richard de Burgh. As the decades and centuries went by, Galway was granted a charter that allowed the citizens of the town additional rights. Additionally, the city was granted "royal borough" status due to its population of around 3,000 people during the 15th century. Though such a population is comparatively small in the 21st century, during that epoch it was impressive enough to be considered a "medium-sized town." A governing force of 14 merchant families dominated County Galway for centuries afterward, namely the Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, French, Font, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerrett families.[4]

The ruling presence of these 14 families inspired Galway's nickname of "City of the Tribes." International trade, primarily with Spain and France, drove the region's economy for years, though in modern times, the city is known more for its tourism. Numerous events, celebrations, and festivals take place in Galway City each year, including the Galway Arts Festival. Another modern feat of the city includes its title of "European Capital of Culture" in 2020.[2]