Online Encyclopedia

GALWAY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 434 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
GALWAY, a seaport, parliamentary borough and the county town of county Galway, Ireland, on the north shore of Galway Bay, and on the main line of the Midland Great Western railway. Pop._ of urban district (1901) 13,426. Some of the streets are very narrow, and contain curious specimens of old buildings, chiefly in antique Spanish style, being square, with a central court, and a gateway opening into the street. The most note-worthy of these is the pile known as Lynch's Castle. This residence takes its name from the family of whom James Lynch Fitzstephen, mayor of Galway in 1493, was a member; whose severity as a magistrate is exemplified in the story that he executed his own son, and thus gave origin (according to one of several theories) to the familiar term of Lynch law. The principal streets are broad and contain good shops. St Nicholas church is a fine cruciform building founded in 1320, and containing monuments, and a bell, one of a peal, which appears to have been brought from Cavron in France, but how this happened is not known. The church was made collegiate in 1484, and Edward VI. created the Royal College of Galway in connexion with it; but the old college buildings no longer serve this purpose, and the church ceased to be collegiate in 184o. There are remains of a Franciscan friary founded in 1296. St Augustine's church (Roman Catholic) is modern (1859). The town is the seat of a Roman Catholic diocese. There are grammar, model and industrial schools, the first with exhibitions to Trinity College, Dublin; but the principal educational establishment is University College, a quadrangular building in Tudor Gothic style, of grey limestone. It was founded as Queen's College, with other colleges of the same name at Belfast and Cork, under an act of 1845, and its name was changed when it was granted a new charter pursuant to the Irish Universities Act 1908. The harbour comprises an extensive line of quays, and is connected for inland navigation with Lough Corrib. The shipping trade is considerable, but as a trans-Atlantic port Galway was exploited unsuccessfully. The fisheries, both sea and salmon, are important. The chief exports are wool, agricultural produce and black marble, which is polished in local mills. Other industrial establishments include corn-mills, iron-foundries, distilleries, and brush and bag factories. The borough, which returned two members to parliament until 1885, now returns one. Galway is divided into the old and new towns, while a suburb known as the Claddagh is inhabited by fishermen. This is a curious collection of small cottages, where communal government by a locally elected mayor long prevailed, together with peculiar laws and customs, strictly exclusive inter-marriage, and a high moral and religious standard. Specimens of thedistinc tive Claddagh ring, for example, were worn and treasured as venerated heirlooms. These customs, with the distinctive dress of the women, died out but slowly, and even to-day their vestiges remain. The environs of Galway are pleasant, with several handsome residences. The most interesting point in the vicinity is Roscam, with its round tower, ruined church and other remains. Salthill, with golf links, is a waterside residential suburb. Little is known of the history of Galway until after the arrival of the English, at which time it was under the protection of O'Flaherty, who possessed the adjoining district to the west. On the extinction of the native dynasty of the O'Connors, the town fell into the hands of the De Burgos, the head of a branch of which, under the name of M'William Eighter, long governed it by magistrates of his own appointment. After it had been secured by walls, which began to be built about 1270 and are still in part traceable, it became the residence of a number of enterprising settlers, through whom it attained a position of much commercial celebrity. Of these settlers the principal families, fourteen in number, were known as the tribes of Galway. They were of Norman, Saxon or Welsh descent, and became so exclusive in their relationships that dispensations were frequently requisite for the canonical legality of marriages among them. The town rapidly increased from this period in wealth and commercial rank, far surpassing in this respect the rival city of Limerick. Richard II. granted it a charter of incorporation with liberal privileges, which was confirmed by his successor. It had the right of coinage by act of parliament, but there is no evidence to show that it exercised the privilege. Another charter, granted in 1J45, extended the jurisdiction of the port to the islands of Aran, permitted the exportation of all kinds of goods except linens and woollens, and confirmed all the former privileges. Large numbers of Cromwell's soldiers are said to have settled in the town; and there are many traces of Spanish blood among the population. Its municipal privileges were extended bya charter from James I., whereby the town, and a district of two miles round in every direction, were formed into a distinct county, with exclusive jurisdiction and a right of choosing its own magistrates. During the civil wars of 1641 the town took part with the Irish, and was surrendered to the Parliamentary forces under Sir Charles Coote; after which the ancient inhabitants were mostly driven out, and their property was given to adventurers and soldiers, chiefly from England. On the accession of James II. the old inhabitants entertained sanguine hopes of recovering their former rights. But the successes of King William soon put an end to their ex-pectations; and the town, after undergoing another siege, again capitulated to the force brought against it by General Ginkell. GAMA, VASCO DA (c. 1460-1524), Portuguese navigator and discoverer of the sea-route to India, was born at Sines, a small seaport in the province of Alemtejo. Of da Gama's early history little is known. His descent, according to the Nobiliario of Antonio de Lima, was derived from a noble family which is mentioned in the year 1166; but the line cannot be traced without interruption farther back than the year 128o, to one Alvaro da Gama, from whom was descended Estevao da Gama, civil governor of Sines, whose third son Vasco was born probably about the year 146o. In that year died Prince Henry the Navigator, to whose intelligence and foresight must be traced back all the fame that Portugal gained on the seas in the 15th and 16th centuries. Explorers sent out at his instigation discovered the Azores and unknown regions on the African coast, whence continually came reports of a great monarch, " who lived east of Benin, 350 leagues in the interior, and who held both temporal and spiritual dominion over all the neighbouring kings, a story which tallied so remarkably with the accounts of "Prester John which had been brought to the Peninsula by Abyssinian priests, that John II. of Portugal steadfastly resolved that both by sea and by land the attempt should be made to reach the country of this potentate. For this purpose Pedro de Covilham and Affonso de Payva were despatched eastward by land; while Bartholomeu Diaz (q.v.), in command of two vessels, was sent westward by sea (see ABYSSINIA, 14). That there was in truth an ocean highway to the East was proved by Diaz, who returned in December 1488 with the report that when sailing southward he was carried far to the east by a succession of fierce storms, past—as he discovered only on his return voyage—what he ascertained to be the southern extremity of the African continent. The condition of John's health and concerns of state, however, prevented the fitting out of the intended expedition; and it was not till nine years later, when Emanuel I. had succeeded to the throne, that the preparations for this great voyage were completed—hastened, doubtless, by Columbus's discovery of America in the meanwhile. For the supreme command of this expedition the king selected Vasco da Gama, who had in his youth fought in the wars against Castile, and in his riper years gained distinction as an intrepid mariner. The fleet, consisting of four vessels specially built for this mission, sailed down the Tagus on the 9th of July 1497, after prayers and confession made by the officers and crews in a small chapel on the site where now stands the church of S. Maria de Belem (see LISBON), afterwards built to commemorate the event. Four months later the flotilla cast anchor in St Helena Bay, South Africa, rounded the Cape in safety, and in the beginning of the next year reached Malindi, on the east coast of Africa. Thence, steering eastward, under the direction of a pilot obtained from Indian merchants met with at this port, da Gama arrived at Calicut, on the Malabar coast, on the loth May 1498, and set up, according to the custom of his country, a marble pillar as a mark of conquest and a proof of his discovery of India. His reception by the zamorin, or Hindu ruler of Calicut, would have in all probability been favourable enough, had it not been for the jealousy of the Mahommedan traders who, fearing for their gains, so incited the Hindus against the new-corners that da Gama was unable to establish a Portuguese factory. Having seen enough of India to assure him of its great resources, he returned to Portugal in September 1499. The king received him with every mark of distinction, granted him the use of the prefix Dom, thus elevating him to the rank of an untitled noble, and conferred on him pensions and other property. In prosecution of da Gama's discoveries another fleet of thirteen ships was immediately sent out to India under Pedro Alvares Cabral, who, in sailing too far westward, by accident discovered Brazil, and on reaching his destination established a factory at Calicut. The natives, again instigated by the Mahommedan merchants, rose up in arms and murdered all whom Cabral had left behind. To avenge this outrage a powerful armament of ten ships was fitted out at Lisbon, the command of which was at first given to Cabral, but was afterwards transferred to da Gama, who received the title admiral of India (January 1502). A few weeks later the fleet sailed, and on reaching Calicut da Gama immediately bombarded the town, treating its inhabitants with a savagery too horrible to describe. From Calicut he proceeded in November to Cochin, "doing all the harm he could on the way to all that he found at sea," and having made favourable trading terms with it and with other towns on the coast, he returned to Lisbon in September 1503, with richly laden ships. He and his captains were welcomed with great rejoicings and he received additional privileges and revenues. Soon after his return da Gama retired to his residence in Evora, possibly from pique at not obtaining so high rewards as he expected, but more probably in order to enjoy the wealth and position which he had acquired; for he was now one of the richest men in the kingdom. He had married, probably in 1500, a lady of good family, named Catherina de Ataide, by whom he had six sons. According to Correa, he continued to advise King Emanuel I. on matters connected with India and maritime policy up to 1505, and there are extant twelve documents dated 1507—1522 which prove that he continued to enjoy the royal favour. The most important of these is a grant dated December 1519 by which Vasco da Gama was created count of Vidigueira, with the extraordinary privileges of civil and criminal jurisdiction and ecclesiastical patronage. During this time the Portuguese conquests increased in the East, and were presided over by successive viceroys. The fifth of these was so unfortunate that da Gama was recalled from his seclusion by Emanuel's successor, John III., and nominated viceroy of India, an honour which in April 1524 he left Lisbon to assume. Arriving at Goa during September of the same year, he immediately set himself to correct with vigour the many abuses which had crept in under the rule of his predecessors. He was not destined, however, to prosecute far the reforms he had inaugurated, for, on the Christmas-eve following his arrival, he died at Cochin after a short illness, and was buried in the Franciscan monastery there. In 1538 his body was conveyed to Portugal and entombed in the town of Vidigueira. In i88o what were supposed on insufficient evidence to have been his remains were transferred to the church of Santa Maria de Belem. His voyage had the immediate result of enriching Portugal, and raising her to one of the foremost places among the nations of Europe, and eventually the far greater one of bringing to pass the colonization of the East by opening its commerce to the Western world.
End of Article: GALWAY
[back]
GALVESTON
[next]
GAMALIEL (Se'So?)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.