Galway - Etymology

Etymology

The city takes its name from the river Gaillimh (River Corrib) that formed the western boundary of the earliest settlement, which was called Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe ("Fort at the mouth of the Gaillimh"). The word Gaillimh means "stoney" as in "stoney river" (the mythical and alternative derivations are given in History of Galway). Historically, the name was Englished as Galliv, which is closer to the Irish pronunciation.

The city also bears the nickname "City of the Tribes" (Irish: Cathair na dTreabh) because "fourteen tribes" of merchant families led the city in its Hiberno-Norman period. The term tribes was often a derogatory one in Cromwellian times. The merchants would have seen themselves as Irish gentry and loyal to the King. They later adopted the term as a badge of honour and pride in defiance of the town's Cromwellian occupiers.

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