Hardiman: The History of the Town and County of the Town of Galway

Pdf Hardiman, James. The history of the town and county of the town of Galway. Dublin: W. Folds and Sons, 1820.
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The History of The Town And County Of The Town of Galway by James Hardiman (1782-1855) is the history of the city and county of Galway in the west of Ireland from the earliest times until the early 19th century and is considered by historians to be a definitive work.

Galway is the fifth largest city in Ireland and the only city in the province of Connaught . It takes its name from the River Corrib or Abhainn na Gaillimhe and was established in 1124 by the King of Connaught, Turlough Mór O'Connor when he constructed a fort at the mouth of the river. The The Ó Flaithbheartaigh or O'Flaherty held the city until the Normans who had already conquered much of Ireland in the 12th century finally seized the city in the 1230s led by Richard Mor de Burgh. In time the de Brugh or Burke dynasty of Clanrickard fought among themselves while simultaneously integrating with the Gaelic Irish.

In 1333 the city of Galway led by fourteen merchant families who gave the city its nickname as 'The City of The Tribes' sought independence from the volatile Clanrickard Burkes. The town became surrounded by a defensive wall and in 1396 finally secured its charter from the English Crown. For centuries the Tribes of Galway would dominate the economic, political and social life of the Galway city distinguishing themselves from the Norman and the Gaelic inhabitants of ts county hinterland.

The fourteen families who controlled Galway were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'Arcy, Deane, Font, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morris and Skerrett and their origins were a combination of Gaelic, Norman, Flemish, French and English. They took the Confederate side in the English Civil War, were punished by Cromwell and lost much of their political power to the Parliamentarians who had their property confiscated.

The restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 saw an improvement of the fortunes of the 'tribesmen'. However after the Catholic defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and a siege of the city, political power passed to a Protestant minority who would remain dominant until the 19th century. Persecution of the Catholic merchant families caused Galway to become an economic backwater.

County Galway was always at a considerable disadvantage compared to the agriculturally richer farming regions of Ulster , Leinster and Munster . The O'Flaherty Gaelic clan led Gaelic resistance to English rule for centuries with their stronghold in Connemara to the east of Lough Corrib the dividing line between their territory and that of the Clanrickard Burkes. Following the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland , the leading Gaelic and Old English Catholic landowners were infamously banished 'to hell or to Connaught' and took refuge in Galway . The natural north to south barrier of the River Shannon was used to secure British plantations on the rest of the island.

In the early to mid 19th century much of Galway was populated by Catholic tenants who were Gaelic speaking and desperately poor. Paying high rents, tithes to the Church of Ireland and surviving on a subsistence diet of potatoes, the rising population was always vulnerable to famine. In the 1840s, a little over twenty years after Hardiman's book, the Great Irish Potato Famine caused the deaths of about a million people and caused over a million more to emigrate. County Galway 's population plummeted in the following decades. During the famine years the populations of Dublin and other cities rose as they became a refuge for the rural poor while the population of Galway fell.

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