By the year 1232, it was held by the Anglo Normans under Richard de Burgo, but constant flying raids by the various Clans in the region brought about the need to build defensive walls. The work was commenced and it was an immense task given the small population of the town and the tools of the period. By 1270 much of the walls were in place including the Spanish Arch itself, and the town began to grow and prosper. A charter was granted in 1396 by Richard II which transferred governing powers to 14 merchant families, known locally as the 14 tribes of Galway. Each of the 14 tribes maintained a quasi-independence, while still retaining respectful links to the British crown. Galway City is now known and ‘City of The Tribes’, and the names of these fourteen tribes are now represented on roundabouts in Galway City.
Galway’s strategic coastal location and natural harbour caused successful trading links to be built up with both Portugal and Spain, and the city prospered for many centuries. Cromwell, however, arrived in 1651 and the region entered a long period of decline. Other prominent sea ports emerged on the east coast, namely Dublin and Waterford, and trade with Spain came to an end.
Many years would pass before Galway would again enjoy such prosperity, but the legacy of the city’s long and colourful history is still evident in the character and style of the city’s building stock.
The early 1900s saw Galway’s revival as tourists returned to the city and student numbers grew. In 1934 the cobbled streets and thatched cabins of Claddagh were tarred and flattened to make way for modern buildings, and construction has boomed since. Many large, international companies based themselves in the city, and now Galway is a thriving hub, desirable to live in and visit.