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In the year 1124, the King of Connacht had a fort built at the mouth of the River Gaillimh in what would become Galway. The fort was attacked in 1132, and again in 1149. In 1170, the English invaded eastern Ireland.

During the Norman invasion of the 1230, Richard Mor de Burgh, who led the invasion, captured the area and founded the town of Galway. Walls were constructed around the town after 1270. Anglo-Normans became settlers in Galway. Franciscan friars came to Galway in 1296. The locals called them grey friars due to their frocks. The would be followed by Dominican friars in 1488, and Augustinian friars in 1508.

In 1396 , King Richard II granted the charter making Galway a royal borough, while at the same time transferring the governing powers to fourteen merchant families. These families were and are known as the 14 Tribes of Galway. Twelve of the families were English, and two were Normans. While the tribes had quasi-independence, they balanced that by having links to the English Crown.

By the Middle Ages, Galway was already an important port, exporting skins, wool, and leather, and they imported wine. During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the kings of England lost control of Ireland, except for Dublin, little by little. However, Galway kept the English culture alive.

St. Briget's Hospital was opened in 1543, which was the same year that Galway was hit by sweating sickness. What this illness was is not known, but it was highly contagious and Galway, and in fact, all of Europe is a series of epidemics. The first one began in 1485 and the last major one in 1551, leaving thousands dead. The symptoms began suddenly and frequently killed within hours. The symptoms of this sickness began with a sense of apprehension, violent cold shivers, headache, severe pains in the neck, limbs, and shoulders, and then exhaustion, all within the first three hours. The next stage included a drenching sweat, headache, and delirium. In the final stage, patients would feel exhaustion to the point of collapse, or an overpowering urge to sleep. There appeared to be no immunity, as many surviving patients went through the illness once again the next time the sickness broke out. In 1551, the disease vanished as mysteriously as it arrived.

The Irish Rebellion of 1641 started out as an attempted coup by the Irish Catholic gentry who tried to get control of the English administration in Ireland in order force the English into giving concessions to the Catholics who lived under English control. The coup was unsuccessful and the revolt ended up an ethnic conflict with Irish Catholics on one side and Scottish and English Protestants on the other.

That led directly into the Confederates' War, which lasted from 1642 to 1648. When the Scottish and English armies drove the Irish rebels out of Ulster, the Irish Catholics reacted by forming the Catholic Confederation, their own government. The fort at Galway was set upon and, the people of Galway, with the help fro other Confederates, forced the surrender of the English garrison in 1643. During the Wars of Three Kingdoms the Siege of Galway was fought for nine months. Galway was the last city which was held by the Irish Catholic fighters, which made it a key in the Irish Confederate War. After nine months, it was nearly impossible for the people of Galway to hold out any longer. A blockade made it nearly impossible to get enough food to keep themselves alive, and an outbreak of the plague in Galway demoralized the troops beyond repair. They surrendered to Cromwell's army.

At the start of the 19th century, the total population of Galway was approximately 5,000, but it dropped precipitously throughout the century, due in large part to the potato famine which lasted from 1845 to 1849.

During the Irish War of Independence, from 1919 to 1921, Galway served as the headquarters for the British Army, so there was little they could do to overcome the British. In November of 1920, a Galway priest was kidnapped and killed by British troops. His body was found in a bog in nearby Barna. Businessmen throughout Galway started a boycott against goods from Northern Ireland as a protest against the loyalist attacks on Catholic nationalists. That boycotts spread all over the country.

By 1950, more than 21,000 people lived in Galway. Its port was busier than ever, and the city's largest exports included produce, marble, and wool. Industry took a great leap forward and included furniture making, iron, milling, and hat making. By the end of the century, electronics, engineering, and information technology had replaced the traditional industries.

Today, the population of Galway is about 80,000.

 

 

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