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Ireland's second largest county, Galway is located in the rugged west of Ireland and encompasses the magical scenery of Connemara, the rugged Aran Islands and the city of Galway , from which the county takes its name.
The Irish translation Gaillimh relates to the word gaill meaning foreigners and indeed the maritime city of Galway was established by outsiders from 14 merchant families of Norman heritage in the 13th Century. Known as the City of the Tribes, referring to these families, the walled city of Galway was under constant attack from the Irish natives. These days the city is a vibrant cosmopolitan hub, regarded as the Dublin of the West and hosts a number of festivals, including The Galway Races in the last week of july and most famously the Galway Oyster Festival in September.
County Galway, particularly the western region known as Connemara, is where the Irish language and many of the traditions of Gaelic Ireland are strongest. Connemara is one of Ireland's most iconic locations, a landscape of rusty boglands and jagged coastline overlooked by the brooding ranges of the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.
On the eastern borders of Connemara is Lough Corrib one of Ireland's premier salmon and trout fisheries, attracting Fly Fishers in droves from May to September. Lough Corrib is the largest lake of the Republic of Ireland and splits the county between the rugged west of Connemara and the fertile farmland of the east of the county.
Off the coast out in Galway Bay are the three Aran Islands of Inishmor, Inishsheer and Inishmaan. These rugged islands represent to many visitors the timeless character of auld Ireland. The largest Inishmor is home to one of Ireland's most important and stunning prehistoric stone forts, Dun Aonghusa, perched on the cliff face over looking the Atlantic Ocean.
Famous Galwegians include actor Peter O'Toole, Irish novelist Liam O'Flaherty, Nora Barnacle, the wife of James Joyce and contemporary novelist Walter Macken.