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A visitor to Galway in 1614 noted the city's prosperous appearance. He was especially struck by the elegant townhouses with finely cut stone facades, fortified with "faire battlement, in an uniform course". These houses would have been owned by Galway's leading merchant families, the "fourteen tribes of Galway". The Lynch family were one of the leading "tribes". Lynch's Castle (now an Allied Irish Bank) is one of the best examples of a 16th century townhouse. The finely cut stone lintels, coat of arms and fine stone fireplaces in the interior are well worth a look.
This church was built and dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of the traveler, in 1320. Following a successful petition to Pope Innocent VIII in 1484, the church was rendered collegiate and was controlled by a warden and eight vicars. The structure itself has been repeatedly rebuilt and renovated, and the tower wasn't built until the early 1500s. These changes were partly because this church changed hands a number of times between the Catholic and the Anglican communions. St. Nicholas' Church contains fine examples of Galway's medieval stone carvings, many of which are carved on the ornate tombs. This church is also renowned as the place where Christopher Columbus offered his last prayers before his epic journey to the New World. Services still take place here each Sunday.
Originally called the "Fair Green," in 1710 Mayor Edward Eyre, who had inherited this area of land from his father, donated it to the city. The square named in the former mayor's honor is in the heart of Galway city and is one of its largest open spaces. In the center of the square is the John F. Kennedy Memorial commemorating the president's visit in 1963. It was here that the president addressed the people of Galway and there is a bronze plaque commemorating his visit. In fact, the square was officially renamed in his honor, but locals continue to call it by its more popular name.
Taibhdhearc Theatre was first leased from the Augustinian Fathers by Hilton Edwards. After being refurbished it opened its doors to audiences in August 1928 with a production of "Diarmuid and Gráinne" by Micheál MacLiammóir. Since this date Galway has had a theater which presents plays in the Irish language. The theater also regularly features regular musicals and opera. Many luminaries have appeared at the Taibhdhearc, including playwright and novelist Walter Macken, poet Máirtin Ó Direáin, distinguished actress Siobhán McKenna and actor Seán McClory.
Possibly the most impressive building in Galway, this was the last great stone cathedral constructed in Western Europe. The Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and overlooks the Salmon Weir Bridge. The Renaissance-style building was opened and consecrated by the late Cardinal Cushing in 1965 and stands on the site of the old city jail. It is not particularly antiquated, yet still corresponds with conventional church design and features a marble floor and brown cedar ceiling. The woodwork, stained glass and mosaics were all handcrafted by Irishmen.
Initially called Queen's College Galway, National University of Ireland-Galway was designed and built by the architect J.B. Keane during the Great Famine, in the middle of the 19th century. However, it didn't open its doors to students until 1845. Women students were first permitted in 1906, and the first woman to receive an engineering degree in Ireland received it at this university. The campus has recently expanded to accommodate its increasing student body. Most of the university buildings range in age from the mid-19th century to the brand new Millennial Arts building. The original structure, a 19th-century, neo-Gothic quadrangle is well worth seeing. The Clock Tower is reminiscent of the Tom Tower at Christ Church, Oxford.