Spanish Galway

Someone has been trying recently & kindly to hammer into my thick skull the nature and depth of early Irish ties with Iberia. Here’s a bleeding chunk from a piece called The City of the Tribes: Italian Memories in an Irish Port in a recently cited James Joyce anthology (Occasional, Critical, and Political Writings):

The lazy Dubliner who does not travel much and knows his country only by hearsay thinks that the inhabitants of Galway are of Spanish stock, and that it is impossible to walk through the gloomy laneways of the city of the tribes without coming across a true Spanish type with olive features and crow-black hair. The Dubliner is both wrong and right. Nowadays, at least, dark hair and eyes are rare in Galway where, for the most part, a Titian hue of red dominates. The old Spanish houses are in ruins and tufts of weeds are growing in the splays of the bay windows. Outside the town walls rise the suburbs, new, gay and thoughtless of the past. However, it is enough to close one’s eyes against this unsettling modernity just for a moment, and the ‘Spanish City’ can be seen in the shadows of history.

Joyce proceeds to mention streets recalling ties with Latin Europe–Madeira Street, Spaniards Walk, Velasquez Palmyra Avenue–as well as Cromwell’s letters describing Galway as the second port in the United Kingdom (sic) and the first for the Italian and Spanish trade, being almost the sole entry point for wine from Spain, Portugal, the Canaries and Italy, such that

the Dutch goverment proposed buying a large estate nearby the city and paying for it by covering the land in silver coins. The corporation, fearful of foreign competition, replied through an envoy that it agreed on the condition that the coins would be placed vertically on the ground. The Dutch response to this very kind counter-offer has not yet been received.

Then there is the tragic history of Walter Lynch, only son of the mayor, James Lynch FitzStephen, who in 1493 murdered a Spaniard called Gomez who had befriended him and then his girlfriend, Agnes. His father condemned Walter to die and, when the executioner declined, hanged him himself in front of a horrified crowd.

Gomez and Lynch had their little tiff at around the time Columbus visited Galway and claimed in a note to Historia del Papa Pío II (source: Salvador de Madariaga, Vida del muy magnífico señor don Cristóbal Colón) to have encountered two shipwrecked Chinese, a man and a beautiful woman. That there were Chinese in 15th century Galway is most unlikely, but that there are many more now than there are Spanish is not in doubt. I have heard particularly good things about the Da Tang Noodle House.

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Published
Last updated 10/10/2005

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Christopher Columbus (20):

Galway (1): Galway is a city in the West of Ireland, in the province of Connacht. Galway lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay, surrounded by County Galway, and is the sixth most populous city in Ireland, with a population at the 2016 Census of 79,934.Galway will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020, alongside Rijeka, Croatia.

Kaleboel (4325):

Natural history (512): Natural history is the research and study of organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.

Spain (1882):

Tree (284):


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