Travel Tips & Ideas

Interesting Facts About Galway

Lynch Memorial

Delve into the intriguing world of Galway, where every corner reveals a fascinating story. From the continent’s second-fastest flowing river to a hidden treasure trove of Irish heritage, discover these interesting facts about Galway that everyone should know.

The Beginning

The city of Galway traces its origins to a fortification constructed in 1124 by the King of Connacht, which later became a naval base for his fleet, leading to the development of a new settlement in the area.


The city, originally named Gaillimh, has seen its name anglicised over time, with variations such as Galliv or Gallive, reflecting the Irish pronunciation. In Latin, the city is known as Galvia, while its inhabitants are affectionately referred to as Galwegians.


During medieval times, Galway was governed by 14 influential merchant families, collectively known as the “tribes.” This historical fact is the origin of Galway’s nickname, the “City of the Tribes,” or in Irish, “Cathair na dTreabh.”


The Latin motto of Galway, “Laudatio Ejus Manet In Secula Seculorum,” translates to “His Praise Remains unto Ages of Ages,” reflecting the enduring spirit and pride of the city’s heritage.


Galway has garnered several notable titles over the years, including being named one of the top eight “sexiest cities” in the world in 2007. It is also known as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” recognized as the European Region of Gastronomy in 2018, and awarded the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture for 2020. Additionally, Galway has been voted Europe’s friendliest city in the Condé Nast Traveller Reader Travel Awards on multiple occasions, most recently in 2020, with Dublin coming in second place

The First, The Largest, The Biggest…

  • St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church (Church of Ireland) stands as the largest medieval parish church in Ireland still regularly used, with the distinction of having likely been a place of worship for Christopher Columbus in 1477.
  • Lynch’s Castle, once the residence of a Mayor of Galway and now a bank, holds the title of the oldest building in Ireland in daily commercial use.
  • Muckanaghederdauhaulia, a townland in County Galway, boasts the longest place name in Ireland, meaning “piggery between two briny places” in Irish, possibly harking back to a former pig farm in the area.
  • The Merriman Hotel in Kinvara, Co. Galway, proudly features the largest thatched roof in Ireland.
  • Galway boasts the largest Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking community) in Ireland, surpassing even the extensive areas in counties Donegal, Mayo, and Kerry, as well as parts of Cork, Meath, and Waterford.
  • Alice Perry, a Galway native, made history in 1904 as the first woman in Britain or Ireland to be awarded an engineering degree, showcasing the city’s pioneering spirit.

The Smallest

Galway boasts Ireland’s Smallest Museum, located at Nora Barnacle’s House in Bowling Green. Nora Barnacle, the wife of James Joyce, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, owned this quaint and historically rich site.


The highest temperature ever recorded in Galway was 31.7 °C (89.1 °F) in July 1921, while the lowest temperature recorded was −11.7 °C (10.9 °F) in January 1945.


The River Corrib, Galway’s lifeblood, ranks as the second-fastest flowing river in Europe, coursing through the city at an impressive speed of 9.8 feet (3 meters) per second.


  • In 1477, Christopher Columbus visited Galway, a fact noted in the margin of his copy of Imago Mundi.
  • After the English Civil War(s), two Galway soldiers, Gunning and Dear, volunteered to execute the defeated King Charles I in 1649.
  • Galway, heavily impacted by the Great Famine (1845-47), saw approximately 20% of its population perish.
  • Queens College Galway opened in 1849 with only 68 students, marking the beginning of a prestigious educational institution.

Made In Galway

  • The Claddagh Ring, a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship, was first crafted in Galway during the 17th century, originating in the Claddagh fishing village.
  • Galway Hookers, traditional sailing boats native to the region, were first built in Galway, playing a vital role in local maritime culture and heritage.
  • The iconic Aran sweater, known for its intricate cable patterns and warmth, was first knit in the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, reflecting the region’s rich knitting traditions.

Galway’s charm extends beyond the city. Discover Connemara and the iconic Cliffs of Moher experience on our unforgettable day tours from Galway!