Galway the Host City
Galway is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the only city in the province of Connacht. According to the 2011 census, the population of Galway is 75,414.
The park at the center of Galway City is officially called John F. Kennedy Park. However, it is still known by most Irish people as Eyre Square. It was renamed John F. Kennedy Park in the 1970s after the visit of Ireland’s favorite US President (sorry, Obama!). The square is home to the old city gates and its defending cannon.
Galway is nicknamed “The City of Tribes” (“Cathair na dTreabh”) after the fourteen merchant families who led the city during the Hiberno-Norman period.
The city is known for its vibrant lifestyle and numerous festivals, celebrations and events including the summer’s Galway Arts Festival which is known for its famous Macnas (the arts group) parade.
There are many symbols associated with Galway. These include the Claddagh Ring, Galway’s own symbol of love and friendship, worn the world over; the Aran Sweater, an emblem, not only of the Aran Islands, but of Ireland itself; and the Galway Hookers, ships that distinguish themselves as Galway’s signature upon the water.
In 2007, Galway was named one of the top eight “sexiest cities” in the world and in 2008, it was ranked the 42nd best tourist destination in the world and 14th in Europe.
There are 6,870 Irish speakers in Galway city, which is nearly ten percent of the population. Galway is often referred to as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland” as it is most associated with the Irish language, music, song and dance traditions. Galway City is on the doorstep of Galway’s Gaeltacht (an area where Irish is spoken).
The Aran Islands, probably Ireland’s most famous islands, are located just off the coast of Galway. The three islands – Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer – are the perfect place to visit to see Ireland at its best. They are also Gaeltacht areas.
The most famous person born in Galway is the great Hollywood actor Peter O’Toole. Peter Seamus Lorcan O’Toole was born in Connemara in 1932.
The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia, a townland in the civil parish of Kilcummin, County Galway. In Irish, its name is Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile, meaning “piggery between two briny places”.