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BUILT HERITAGE - Town and Villages - Claregalway

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CLAREGALWAY; Baile Chláir na Gaillimhe; Baile Chláir.

Claregalway is located approximately 10 km north-east of Galway City at the junction between the N17 (Galway-Sligo road) and the N18 (Dublin- Limerick road) and to the east of Lough Corrib. It is designated as being part of the ‘gaeltacht’ however there are few people who speak Irish as their first language in the area today.

Called Baile Chláir or Baile Chláir na Gaillimhe or Claregalway, William Wilde in his book ‘Loch Coirib its Shores and Islands’ offers the explantion that it was once known as ‘Cláir an Diabhail’ or ‘Devil’s Flat or board’ since the rapid river was crossed using planks or boards (see ‘relevant links’).

Population

According to Census 2011, this area in that year had a population of 1,217 comprised of 590 males and 627 females. Please go to ‘relevant links’ and click on the ‘area profile for Baile Chláir according to Census 2011 for interesting information on the age profile of the population, marital status, average number of children per household, education, social class comparison etc.

Claregalway Village

According to the Tuam Guide website (go to ‘relevant links’), Claregalway village has expanded rapidly in recent times but still has several historic sites and amenities such as Claregalway Castle and the ruins of a Franciscan Abbey.

Claregalway Castle

For a brief history of Claregalway Castle go to ‘relevant links’. Guided tours are conducted in the castle where the visitor will learn about the castle’s history from Norman times to its reconstruction today. The River Clare flows along by the castle grounds it eventually finds its way into Lough Corrib. An annual Galway Garden Festival is held in the castle grounds in July.

Franciscan Abbey Claregalway

In 1290, John de Cogan built the cruciform-shaped Franciscan Abbey at Claregalway. In chapter 3 of William R. Wilde’s ‘Loch Coirib - its Shores and Islands’, he lauds the Friary with praise over its beauty. And describes it as the following:

“A more picturesque group of ruins, or one comprising a greater variety for the display of the artist's pencil, can scarcely be found, even amidst the multitudinous remains that crowd the parishes abutting upon Loch Coirib, than this scene presented in former days--with its little mill, and slow winding river passing under a long, low, many-arched bridge, but which is now replaced by a canal, and a single formal arch”.