Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 5/The city of the tribes

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Can there be anybody not yet tolerably familiar with the Galway subsidy ? During the time that the discussion lasted, no one could take up a newspaper without seeing the unfortunate subject, " toH jours perdrix," in some shape or other, whether debate, letter, or article, though the interest that Galway affairs excited in English news was nothing to the prominence that they received in the Irish papers. There the difficulty was to find a column in which anything but the subsidy was mentioned, or the systematic injustice of the English government descanted npon. As I happened to be staying in Galway during the fever-heat of the affair, it may well be imagined that I heard enough of it to last my natural life ; but apart from the politics, I found in the town so much to interest, that I cannot refrain from writing about it, in the hopes that some of my readers may be induced to visit it en route to Connemara. There are two points of view from which to examine Galway ; — the present, upon which the success or ill-success of its future will hang ; and the past, which is still visible in an uncommon degree in the style and architecture of its streets, as weU as the dress and features of its inhabitants. Hundreds of years ago, when Ireland was all but a terra ignota to the rest of the world — when the natives of Connaught passed their rude lives little better than did the beasts of the field — when to be an Irish king was synonymous with every species of dissension and turbulence, there was yet one bright spot amidst the gloominess of those uncivilised times. A pleasant, busy httle town had sprung up on the shoi-es of one of the many lovely bays that indent the west coast of Ireland, — so ancient was its first foundation, that even Ptolemy mentions it in his writings ; and although in subsequent times it had been destroyed over and over again by the Danes, or by the people of Munster, who regarded the colony with a jealous eye, the little town of Dune-pun-na- Gaillve, or the Fortification at the mouth of the Galway, rose up after every attack with renewed vigour to fulfil its destiny. Of its early inha- bitants, previous to the invasion of Connaught by Heniy II., tradition says little or nothing; but after that event a few families settled in Galway to such good purpose, and with such tenacity, that their descendants, even at this period, are foimd high and low, and indeed make up the bidk of the leading citizens. These colonists are knowTi to this day by the name of the Tribes of Galway — an expression first invented by Cromwell's forces, as a term of reproach, to denote their attachment to each other during the troubles, but afterwards adopted by them as an honourable mark of distinction between them and their oppressors. Amongst these fourteen so-called Tribes, the names of Blake, D'Arcy, Bodkin, French, Joyce, Lynch, and Martin are as household words in the annals of the town ; and were a stranger required to hazard the name of any given Galway inha- Intant, he might pretty safely pronounce it to be either Blake or Lynch. If their Connaught or Munster neighbours regarded them with no loving eyes, it must, on the other hand, be allowed that the Tribes were particularly careful in keeping themselves to themselves, and scarcely ever ])ermitted the natives to enter their strongly-walled property. Many amusing anecdotes are stiU extant, showing

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