Galway historian and author, William Henry, has just published the latest book on his native city, Galway Walking Through History, a concise and guided chronicle of Galway from its earliest period of habitation up to modern times. It is a voyage of discovery across all generations of human activity in Galway City. The book is informative on all aspects of the history of Galway and follows a broad chronology of events that shaped the city today.

Galway City is built on the banks of the River Corrib. This short river, approximately two miles long, is fed by the vast waters of Lough Corrib.

There is evidence to suggest that the area around Galway may have been inhabited from the Irish Mesolithic period (circa 8000 BC). The evidence of these people, items such as stone scrapers and other small implements, was found on the bed of the river. The river has also yielded traces of the Neolithic period (circa 4000 BC) and among the finds are numerous axe-heads.

It was during this period that people began to settle in the Galway area. In addition to the finds there are the remains of a Portal Tomb, dating from this period located near Menlo village, just two miles from the city centre.
The waters of Lough Corrib have yielded additional proof of early habitation with the discovery of log-boats, Bronze and Iron Age material. From an archaeological and historical perspective the river is a virtual time-tunnel to Galway’s past.

The book highlights Bronze and Iron Age monuments including Fulachta Fiadh (often referred to as cooking places), ringforts and a large Standing Stone at Roscam.

The Roscam area is rich in archaeology and history with the remains of an extremely important monastic settlement. The ancient monastery of Roscam was founded by Saint Odran during the sixth century. He was a brother of Saint Ciaran, founder of the celebrated monastery of Clonmacnoise near Athlone.

Tradition links King Brian of Connacht with Roscam. King Brian was recorded as the ancestor of a number of Connacht kings and the noted Irish families of O’Connor, O’Flaherty and O’Rourke. According to tradition King Brian was an elder brother of the famous Irish High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The monastery complex includes the remains of the medieval church and graveyard with some interesting carved stones. There is also an unusual-style round tower on the site.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own