Hardiman's History of Galway

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

Wardenship of Galway instituted by the archbishop of Tuam

Chapter 4

From 1484 to the commencement of the Irish Rebellion in 1641

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Old map of Galway

The town of Galway having considerably increased in wealth and opulence during the last two centuries, (by its constant and gradually extending commerce with the nations of Europe, but particularly with France and Spain, from whence its merchants annually imported vast quantities of wine,) and the principal part of the inhabitants being connected together by the ties of kindred, (which were daily augmenting by frequent intermarriages,) and by the more powerful influence of mutual interest: the great and continual object of their care and solicitude was, to prevent any intercourse with the natve Irish of the surrounding county, from whose vindictive dispositions (according to the accounts of the town) and implacable, though, perhaps, just, and often provoked, resentment, many of the towns people had, from time to time, been deprived of their properties and their lives.[a] In order effectually to attain this desirable end, and entirely to cut off all communication between the town and the natives of the country, it became necessary to accomplish two points: the first was, to obtain and establish a separate religious jurisdiction within the town, which should be independent of any exterior ecclesiastical power; and, the second, to new model the corporation, and get rid of the interference of the De Burgos, whose authority had now become insupportable to the inhabitants.

Galway anciently belonged to the diocese of Annaghdown, which was united, in 1324, to the arch-diocese of Tuam; and since that union it was governed by vicars, nominated by that See. In the year 1484, the inhabitants prevailed on Donat O'Murray, then archbishop of Tuam, to release the town from his jurisdiction, and to erect the church of St Nicholas into a collegiate, to be governed by a warden and vicars, who were to be presented and solely elected by the inhabitants of the town. [b] As it was necessary that this act should receive the sanction and confirmation of the Pope, a petition from the parishioners of the town was transmitted to Rome, in which they stated themselves to be "modest and civil people," and represented the inhabitants of the surrounding country as a savage race, brought up in woods and mountains, unpolished and illiterate, by whom they were often disturbed in exercising the divine duties of their religion, according to the English rite and custom; that they were often robbed and murdered by them, and were in continual danger, and likely to suffer many other losses and inconveniences if not speedily succoured, and they therefore prayed that his holiness would be pleased to confirm the institution of the archbishop. This petition was graciously received by the Pope Innocent VIII, who granted a bull of confirmation, according to the prayer of the petitioners.

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