"COUNTY GALWAY, a maritime county in the province of Connaught, Ireland. It is bounded on the N. by the counties Of Roscommon and Mayo, on the E. by Roscommon, King's County, and Tipperary, on the S. by Clare and Galway Bay, and on the W. by the Atlantic. It lies between 52° 57' and 53° 42' N. lat., and from 7° 53' to 10° 15' W. long. It extends to either side of Connaught; its greatest length from E. to W., from the Shannon to the further extremity of Ennisboffin, being 80 miles, and from N. to S., from the Suck to a point near Toberdony, 42 miles, comprising an area of 1,566,354 acres, of which 742,805 are land under the plough, 90,300 are water, 708,000 are uncultivated or pasture, and 23,718 are plantation. It has a bold coast-line on the S. of 160 miles, exclusive of numerous indentations, the principal of which are Killery Harbour, to the N. of which lies Ballynakill Harbour, offering excellent shelter for large craft; Claggan Bay; Streamstown, a narrow creek; Ardbear Harbour, with the fishing town of Clifden; Mannin Bay; Slyne Head, with two lighthouses; Roundstone, a remarkably fine harbour; Galway Bay lying on the S., with the Islands of Arran protecting the entrance.
Besides these are various other inlets, noticed under the different districts in which they are included. The islands of Innisboffin and Innishark lie off Renville Point, Tarbet Island off Orney Harbour, the Skirds rocks and Mynish islands off Rossrua Point, Garomna and Lettermore islands near Gulin Head. Galway was constituted a county in 1585, and made subject to English law by Sir Henry Sidney, lord-deputy, but the manners of the people were little reformed till the revolts of 1641 and 1688. Prior to this period it had been included in the ancient county of Connaught. The ancient inhabitants of Galway were the Nagnati of Ptolemy, who occupied a region extending over Mayo and Roscommon. It was afterwards divided into the following tribes:-the O'Hallorans, O'Dalys and O'Kellys, O'Flahertys, and the Anglo-Norman Burkes, or De Burgos, from Richard de Burge, to whom Henry III. granted the kingdom of Connaught; a branch of this family later assumed the title of Clanricarde, from a district comprising the modern baronies of Athenry, Clare, Dunkellin, Kiltartan, Leitrim, and Loughrea. The English Joyce family settled on the present barony of Ross in the time of Edward I., and the name is still retained in that locality. As late as the middle of the 17th century the county was distributed among the following tribes:-the Flahertys, O'Malleys, and Joyces in the W.; Burkes and Birminghams in the N.E.; O'Naghtens, O'Fallons, O'Kellys, O'Mullallys, O'Daly's, and some of the Birminghams in the E. The O'Heynes, O'Maddens, and O'Shaughnessys held territory in Clanricarde, and the O'Hallorans owned a district on the shores of Lough Corrib. Mac William Eighter was created first Earl of Clanricarde in the time of Edward VI. The county is divided into East and West Ridings, comprising 18 baronies, viz: Athenry, Clare, Dunkellin, Galway, Dunmore. Ballymoe, Killian, Tiaquin, Conmacroon, Kilconnell, Leitrim, Longford, Kiltartan, Loughrea, Ballinahinch, Moycullen, and Ross (the last three are still known as Joyce's Country), Jarconnaught and Connemara; which baronies comprehend 120 parishes, and five-parts of parishes, containing upwards of 75,400 inhabited houses, with a population of 254,256 in 1861, not including the county town of Galway. It contains 12 market towns, viz: Galway, the county town, Gort, Clifden, and Tuam in the West Riding; Ballinasloe, Loughrea, and Portumna in the East Riding; and Eyrecourt, Headford, Athenry, Dunmore, and Kinvarra. The first six of these towns are Poor-law Unions, and the first seven sessions towns, together with Oughterard. It returns two members to parliament for the county, and two for the county town of Galway. Before the Union Athenry and Tuam also returned two members each, but were then disfranchised. It is within the Connaught circuit, and Dublin military district, having stations at Gort, Loughrea, Dunmore, Portumna, Oughterard, and Galway; the two last are also head police stations, presiding over 15 districts. The diocese of Kilmacduagh is wholly within the county, and parts of Tuam, Clonfert, Elphin, and Killaloe are within the limits. The surface to the E. of Lough Corrib (which, with Mask and their connecting waters, divides the county into two great eastern and western districts) is generally flat, excepting the Slievebaughta Mountain on the Clare border, with a productive soil, but much hog. A belt of elevated land running from S. to N. where it joins Slieve Dart Mountain, divides the county into nearly equal parts, the Suck and Shannon being the common reservoir for the one half, and Galway Bay and Lough Corrib for the other. The western or coast portion is for the most part a vast tract of wilderness. [See Connemara.] Among other striking peculiarities of this part of the county are the Benabola, or Twelve Pins, a cluster of mountains, the highest of them, Benbacon, being 2,935 feet above sea-level. Several lakes lie at their feet. In the S.E. the Slievebaughta mountains form the boundary towards Munster. The waters of this county are Lough Corrib, and the Corrib, or Galway river, and Lough Mask, with its subterranean river running from N. to S. The river Suck flows generally along the Roscommon boundary, and its confluent the Shannon waters the King's County and Tipperary border. Turloughs are of frequent occurrence. Lough Derg is a widening of the Shannon; other principal loughs are Turloughmore, Nafery, Inab, Rea, and Delphi; besides these are upwards of 120 smaller loughs. Mineral springs occur at Kiltulla, Abbert, Athenry, Dunsandla, Kingston, Oughterard, and Rathglass. An extension of the Grand canal runs from Shannon Harbour to Ballinasloe, and loughs Corrib and Mask are now rendered navigable from the sea. Fine views are commanded from Maam Hotel, Fairhill, and the passes of Kilruc and Kylemore. Limestone is found all over the county W. of the Shannon. From Galway to Slyne Head an extensive granite bed occurs, which gives place to, gneiss and mica slate at the Benabola, which consist of schistose quartz. Between Killery Harbour and Lough Mask the prevailing rocks are greenstone, greywacke slate, Old Red sandstone, and conglomerate. At Oughterard a very handsome green serpentine is quarried. Green, black, and some other very fine marbles are brought from Ballinahinch, Angliham, and Merlin Park, and are largely exported. Copper and lead ore are also found, and the Twelve Pins are highly metalliferous. Ironstone is abundant at Woodfood, Lawrencetown, and Gort, at which last place manganese is procured. Yellow ochre is raised at Athenry, and a sulphur mine is worked at Connemara. The climate of Galway is mild, and, though damp in some localities, is as a whole very salubrious. Frost and snow are little known, and cattle during winter are often left unhoused. The coast country suffers severely from frequent storms and heavy rains. The best soil is found in a district stretching over Gort, Loughrea, Eyrecourt, and Ballinasloe, upon which very excellent wheat is raised, the other principal crops are oats, barley, potatoes, and meadow. The fences are mostly constructed of stone, and there are extensive tracts of pasture land. The state of agriculture is very backward, except in the most favoured districts, and on the properties recently purchased under the Encumbered Estates Act by English and Scotch proprietors, who have already introduced great improvements, chiefly in the draining and weeding of the land, Great numbers of cattle are driven to Ballinasloe fair. The inhabitants of the coast are nearly all engaged in the fisheries, which are very considerable, chiefly cod, herring, turbot, mackerel, salmon, oysters, and lobsters; formerly the harpooning of the sunfish, or basking-shark, was pursued with great spirit. Kelp' is made in large quantities along the coast. Linens of inferior quality, woollens, and felt goods are manufactured. Ancient earthworks are constantly met with. Druidical remains are also numerous. There are round towers at Kilbannon, Ballygaddy, Kilmacduagh, Meelick, Ardrahan, Murrough, Roscam, and Inniscaltra. The most interesting among several abbey ruins are those of Clare, Galway, Cong, Elanmacdara, and Knockmoy. Square Anglo-Norman strongholds are found all over the county. A battle was fought at Aughrim, when James II.'s troops under General St. Ruth were defeated by De Ginkell in 1691. The principal seats of the county are Portumna Castle, of the Marquis of Clanricarde; Delphi, Marquis of Sligo; Gabally, Earl of Clancarty; Loughcooter Castle, Viscount Gort; Castleffrench, Lord French; Dunsandle, Lord Dunsandle; Woodlawn, Lord Ashton; Cronbrock, Lord Clonbrock; Ardfrey House, Lord Wallscourt; Marble Hill, Burke, Bart.; Castle Blakeney, Bellew, Bart.; Menlo Castle, Menlo, Bart.; Fairfield, Burke, Bart.; Dunmore, Shee, Bart.; Glinsk, the Brookes; Quarrymount, the Bodkins; Ross, the Martins; Renville, the Athys; Dalgin, the Birminghams; Mount Hazel, the Browns; Clifden, the D'Arcys; Merview, the Joyces; Castle Kelly, the Kellys; Castle Racket, the Kirwans; Clydagh, the Lynches; Laneboy, the Morrises; Knockbane, the O'Flahertys; Moyode Castle, the Persses; Headford, the St. Georges; and Salruc, the Thompson. The Midland Great Western railway crosses the county to Galway, where it terminates. The principal roads are from Galway to Athenry by Oranmore; to Dublin by Oranmore, Craughwell, Loughrea, Eyrecourt, and Banagher; to Athlone by Athenry, Kilconnel, Augbrim, and Ballinasloe; to New Village by Monivea, Castleblakeney, Ballinamore, and Grey Abbey; to Clare, by Galway, Tuam, and Dunmore; to Connemara, by Lough Corrib, Oughterard, Ballynahinch, and Clifden; or by Oughterard to Maam, Turc, and the Killeries. The principal fair towns of the county are Aghrinlands, Galway, Ballinamore, Ballinasloe, Claremore, Clonbur, Clonfert, Dunlo, Fairhill, Gort, Kilcorban, Killymore, Mount Bellew Bridge, Tuam, Tubberhadden, Turloughmore, and Williamstown."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018