County Galway (Irish: Contae na Gaillimhe) is a county in Ireland. Lying in the middle of the West of Ireland, it is part of the province of Connacht (English spelling: Connaught) and is named after the city of Galway. There are several Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county. The traditional county includes, and is named for, Galway city, but the city and county have separate local authorities - a city council administers the urban area, while the rest of the county is administered by Galway County Council.
The population of the county is 258,552 according to the 2016 census.
The county originally comprised several kingdoms and territories which predate the formation of the county. These kingdoms included Aidhne, Uí Maine, Maigh Seóla, Conmhaícne Mara, Soghain and Máenmaige. County Galway became an official entity around 1569 AD. The region known as Connemara retains a distinct identity within the county, though its boundaries are unclear, and so it may account for as much as one third, or as little as 20%, of the county.
With the arrival of Christianity many monasteries were built in the county. Monasteries kept written records of events in the area and of its people. These were followed by a number of law-tracts, genealogies, annals and miscellaneous accounts. Extant manuscripts containing references to Galway include:
Nearly 20% of the population of County Galway live in the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking districts). County Galway is home to the largest Gaeltacht Irish-speaking region in Ireland. There are over 48,907 people living within this region, which extends from Galway city westwards through Connemara. The region consists of the following Irish-speaking areas; Galway City Gaeltacht (parts of the city), Gaeltacht Cois Fharraige, Conamara Theas, Aran Islands and Duiche Sheoigheach (a part of the northern Galway region known as "Joyce Country" and Maam Valley).
All schools within the Gaeltacht use the Irish language for classroom instruction. There is also a third-level constituent college of NUIG called Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in Carraroe and Carna. Clifden is the largest town in the region. Galway City is also home to Ireland's only Irish-language theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe. There is a strong Irish-language media presence in this area too, which boasts the radio station Raidió na Gaeltachta and Foinse newspaper in Carraroe and national TV station TG4 in Baile na hAbhann. The Aran Islands are also part of the Galway Gaeltacht.
There are about 30,000 - 40,000 Irish speakers in County Galway. According to Census 2011, the Galway city and county Gaeltacht has a population of 48,907, of which 30,978 say they can speak Irish, 23,788 can be classed as native Irish speakers while 7,190 speak Irish daily only within the classroom. There are 3,006 attending the ten Gaelscoil (Irish language primary schools) and three Gaelcholáiste (Irish language secondary schools) outside the Galway Gaeltacht. According to the Irish Census 2006 there are 10,788 in the county who identify themselves as being daily Irish speakers outside the education system.
Prior to the enactment of the Local Government Act 2001, the county was a unified whole for administrative purposes, despite the presence of two local authorities. Since that time, the administrative re-organisation has reduced the geographical extent of the county by the extent of the area under the jurisdiction of Galway City Council. Today, the geographic extent of the county is limited to the area under the jurisdiction of Galway County Council. Each local authority ranks equally as first level local administrative units of the NUTS 3 West Region for Eurostat purposes. There are 34 LAU 1 entities in the Republic of Ireland. The remit of Galway County Council includes some suburbs of the city not within the remit of Galway City Council. Both local authorities are responsible for certain local services such as sanitation, planning and development, libraries, the collection of motor taxation, local roads and social housing.
The county is part of the North–West constituency for the purposes of European elections. For elections to Dáil Éireann, the county is part of three constituencies: Galway East, Galway West and Roscommon–Galway. Together they return 11 deputies (TDs) to the Dáil.
County Galway is home to Na Beanna Beola (Twelve Bens) mountain range, Na Sléibhte Mhám Toirc (the Maum Turk mountains), and the low mountains of Sliabh Echtghe (Slieve Aughty). The highest point in the county is one of the Twelve Bens, Benbaun, at 729m.
County Galway is partly home to a number of Ireland's largest lakes including Lough Corrib (the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland), Lough Derg and Lough Mask. The county is also home to a large number of smaller lakes, many of which are in the Connemara region. These include Lough Anaserd, Ardderry Lough, Aughrusbeg Lough, Ballycuirke Lough, Ballynahinch Lake, Lough Bofin, Lough Cutra, Derryclare Lough, Lough Fee, Glendollagh Lough, Lough Glenicmurrin, Lough Inagh, Kylemore Lough, Lettercraffroe Lough, Maumeen Lough, Lough Nafooey, Lough Rea, Ross Lake and Lough Shindilla.
The location of County Galway, situated on the west coast of Ireland, allows it to be directly influenced by the Gulf Stream. Temperature extremes are rare and short lived, though inland areas, particularly east of the Corrib, can boast some of the highest recorded temperatures of the summer in the island of Ireland (sometimes exceeding 30 °C); though these temperatures only occur when land warmed east winds sweep the area; the opposite effect can occur in the winter. Overall, however, Galway is influenced mainly by Atlantic airstreams which bring ample rainfall in between the fleeting sunshine. Rainfall occurs in every month of the year, though the late autumn and winter months can be particularly wet as Atlantic cyclonic activity increases and passes over and around the area, and which is why Galway tends to bear the brunt of severe windstorms that can occur between August and March. The county on average receives about 1300mm of rainfall annually, though some areas along the west coast of the county can receive up to 1900mm and beyond. Extreme weather such as blizzards, thunderstorms, flash flooding and hail, though rare, can and do occur, particularly when air masses of continental origin are undercut by more humid and unstable Atlantic flows.
One of the least densely populated counties, County Galway harbors a variety of wildlife. The region's biodiversity is best represented by Connemara National Park, situated in the west of the county.
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Gaelic games are the most popular sport in the county. Galway had traditional regions in which Gaelic football or hurling is played. For example, in south and eastern County Galway, in places such as Portumna, Gort, Clarinbridge and Athenry, hurling is the dominant sport with successful teams at county and national level. Most of the rest of the county is considered to be footballing territory, with most of the county players being from Tuam, Oughterard or parts of Galway city.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to County Galway.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for County Galway.|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1906 New International Encyclopedia article about County Galway.|