Ireland golf vacation guide :
City and regional guide - Galway
As a city and county, Galway is an experience to be savoured and remembered forever. Known as the City of Tribes, Galway is the largest city in western Ireland and the cultural heart of the Irish nation. There is a vibrancy that resonates through this friendly university city, while the county encompasses some of the most famous and beautiful places in Ireland. Lovely Galway Bay, which has been immortalized in song, the Aran Islands and Connemara are all located in the county and are unrivalled in terms of scenic beauty. From the pulsating heart of the city to the characteristic mountains, castles, stone walls, beaches, lakes and rivers, Galway is quite simply beyond compare.
The history of the Galway area is long and colourful, while the legends abound. The tales of how Grace OMalley, considered a pirate by Queen Elizabeth I, sailed the Galway waters as Sea Captain of her clan; the sad fate of the Spanish Armada that foundered off the coast; the way in which the local population have battled throughout the centuries in order to preserve their heritage and culture; the island way of life and Gaeltacht traditions all conspire to create a spine-tingling image. In 1235, the Norman invaders had captured the fort of the Galway Chieftains and built a strong castle around which a medieval settlement grew. The walling of the city started in 1270 and Galway grew as a merchant city, whose wealth was created by 14 merchant families, who later became known as the Tribes of Galway.
Besides the city, the areas of Galway that should be visited without fail include Connemara, often described as the heartland of Irish culture and famous for its dramatic scenery; and the Islands, which include the Aran Islands, Inishbofin and Inishturk. Galways Gaeltacht area comprises southern Connemara and the three Aran Islands of Inishmore, Inisheer and Inishmaan. Here, Irish traditions have never really waned and Gaelic remains the everyday spoken language. And situated just minutes from Galway City, the traditional seaside resort of Salthill is the perfect place to watch (in the words of the famous song) "the sun go down on Galway Bay".
With regard to attractions, Galway is particularly well endowed. Portumna Castle, which was built in 1618 by Richard Burke, is a particularly important Jacobean structure. Gutted by fire in 1826, the lower floor of the house was opened to the public in 1996, while the formal geometrically laid out gardens, a feature of many large Jacobean mansions, are quite a sight to behold. A visit to the award-winning Battle of Aughrim Interpretive Centre, which commemorates the forgotten day in Irish history on July 12th 1691, when the Battle of Aughrim was fought between William of Orange and his deposed Catholic father in law, James II, is also highly recommended.
Another attraction in the area is Coole Park, the former home of Lady Gregory, a founder of the Abbey Theatre and friend of William Butler Yeats. Though the house no longer stands, the estate is now a nature reserve and contains an autograph tree, upon which is carved the signatures of George Bernard Shaw and Sean OCasey. Other places of interest in the region include Athenry Castle, a Norman structure consisting of a three-story tower surrounded by the remains of a strong outer wall; the 16th century Dunguaire Castle, overlooking Galway, where medieval banquets are held during the summer months; and the Nora Barnacle House Museum, a tiny turn-of-the-century house, which was home to Nora Barnacle, the wife and life-long inspiration of James Joyce, one of Irelands greatest ever writers.
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