In the year 1230, Richard de Burgo arrived on the environs of the town we know today as Galway. His attempt to gain control of the area eventually succeeded and the Normans began laying the foundation for the town.
Around this time the first of the merchant families began arriving in Galway, known as the “Tribes of Galway” – The Athys, Blakes, Bodkins, Brownes, D’Arcys, Deanes, Ffonts, Ffrenchs, Joyces, Kirwans, Lynchs, Martins, Morrises and Skerretts. The tribes regarded themselves very different from the native population and passed laws to prevent intermixing.
By 1270, the first stone walls had begun to surround the town, which required protection from the natives such as the O’Flahertys and the O’Connors. A plaque erected over the west gate into the town bore the inscription “From the Ferocious O’Flahertys O Lord Deliver Us”.
The wealthy merchants built Town Castles or fortified houses and over the following centuries Gaelic and Norman influences combined to produce a style of medieval architecture still visible today in the narrow streets of the old town..
Embedded in a stone wall above a built-up Gothic doorway off Market Street, the window marks the spot where, according to legend, James Lynch FitzStephen, mayor of Galway in the early 16th century, condemned his son to death after the young man confessed to murdering a Spanish sailor, who had romanced his girlfriend.
When no one could be found to carry out the execution, Judge Lynch hanged his son himself, ensuring that justice prevailed, before retiring into seclusion.
Spanish Arch & Long WalkOriginally there were 4 arches at the site of the Spanish Arch. In 1477, it is said Christopher Columbus arrived at Galway through the arches and said a prayer at St Nicholas Church before setting sail for America.
In the 18th century the Eyre family built an extension to the Quays called Long Walk, this allowed access from the town to the new quays.