Galway, a harbour city on Ireland’s west coast, sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls.
In 1965, the square was officially renamed “John F. Kennedy Memorial Park” in honour of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy had visited Galway city and made a speech in the square on 29 June 1963, the first U.S. president to do so during his term of office.
St Nicholas Collegiate Church is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use as a place of worship. It is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of children (Santa Claus) and of mariners.
The Church was built by the Lynch family, one of Galway’s tribes, in 1320. The earliest memorial stone recorded is located in the chapel of Christ within the church. It is a 13th century coffin shaped grave slab imbedded in the floor of the chapel. The inscription is in French and it is decorated with a double armed cross. It is known as the ‘Crusaders Tomb’ and it possibly came from the nearby Knights templar church which is said to have been destroyed in 1324.
Galway’s maritime history is also reflected in the church’s association with Christopher Columbus who is said to have worshipped at the church in 1477. 1477!!!!! Before he ever sailed in this direction!
On the floor of the north aisles there is a collection of mostly 18th century memorial stones a number of which bear occupational symbols of the people commemorated. These ‘vocational stones’ as they are known include the symbols of a stone masons, a wool merchant, a coopers, a carpenter and a tailor. One of the stones displays three crowned hammers which is the traditional mark of the goldsmith.
This is one of Galway’s great stories. It is said that in 1493, the mayor and magistrate of Galway James Lynch FitzStephen, hanged his own son from the window of his home.
The mayor having made several trips to Spain, on his last voyage, returned with the son of a respected merchant of whom he had recieved much gracious hospitality. The handsome, olive complected young lad soon became the object of affection to many young ladies, not to the least of which was the mayors sons fiancee.
In a fit of jealous rage, Walter, the mayor’s only son, aged 21, stabbed the young man to death!
The young son having confessed and convicted was sentenced to be hung yet no one was willing to perform the deed of hanging the mayors son.
So, that justice may be served and even to among his own household should there be the abiding of law, the mayor carried out the sentence and hung his own son from the window. The Mayor then went into seclusion for the rest of his days.
The Kings Head, an 800 year old medieval pub, steeped in history. It takes its name from the fact that part of the property was given to the executioner of King Charles the 1st….of course you must stop in for a pint!
After which you must visit this nearby shop and purchase a Claddagh Ring.
Thomas Dillion, est 1750, and the original makers of the Claddagh Ring.
The Claddagh Rings, heart, hands and crown, represent the elelments of love…. Love, Loyalty, Friendship. The ways they are worn:
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is in a relationship.
- On the left ring finger with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is engaged.
- On the left ring finger with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is married.
While visiting, I highly recommend the Connemara Coast Hotel.
It is as described, positioned right on the Connemara Coast. It’s beauty, elegance and charm rolled into a single place. The room was beautiful, facing the ocean so we opened the window to catch both breeze and fragrance.
The upper floor has a reading nook where you’ll want to curl up forever…
We strolled along the beach at sunset then settled by the fire in the cozy bar with irish coffees….the real ones, not coffee with Bailey’s irish cream but steamy cups of strong coffee, irish whiskey and a dollop of whipped cream. Heavenly on a crisp evening.
For your listening pleasure…Galway Girl