Hardiman's History of Galway

Chapter 4: From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

Concluding observations

Chapter 4

From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

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Old map of Galway

Before entering into a detail of the momentous transactions which immediately follow, it may not be uninteresting to the reader to dwell a little on the state of the town at this period. By the preceding facts, gleaned, with much labor, from the generally imperfect materials which, at this distance, have been spared by the hand of time, it appears that the town of Galway was esteemed the most distinguished of any in the kingdom for wealth and trade, and that it ranked amongst the most considerable for strength and population. The causes which gradually led to the extraordinary change, from its original state of comparative insignificance, appear also to have been its well regulated and increasing commerce for the three preceding centuries; its advantageous situation; but, above all, the enterprizing spirit and tried integrity of its inhabitants, which appeared on many occasions, and which are satisfactorily testified by various records. The extent of its commerce, and that at very remote periods of time, has been proved by indubitable authority; and its excelient situation needs only inspection to be convinced of the advantages which must have been derived from it. The town, though early incorporated and governed principally by its merchants, was surrounded by a poor country, and persecuted natives, (with whom "the settlers," as they were called, were in a continual state of hostility,) and could consequently derive but few materials for export, or means of industry, from its local situation. The inhabitants, therefore, were obliged to have recourse to distant parts of the kingdom: and by becoming, in fact, the home-importers of the produce of France, Spain and England, and by exchanging the commodities of one country for those of another, the town gradually arrived to its present state of prosperity, while the country in its neighbourhood was immersed in poverty, wretchedness and vice, This opulence. however, was now at its height: henceforth it continued to decline, and gradually sunk almost to nothing, in which condition it continues at the present day. The reader will not be here detained by an investigation of the causes of this decay; it will be reserved for another place, in order to proceed without further interruption.

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