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Renaissance Galway: delineating the seventeenth-century city

by  Paul Walsh
€ 15.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

September 2019


Number of pages: 110

ISBN: 978-1-911479-07-9


PDF icon Advance Information

Renaissance Galway is the latest ancillary publication from the Irish Historic Towns Atlas.

The subject of the book is the remarkable ‘pictorial map’ of Galway, which was produced in the mid-seventeenth century. It offers a bird’s eye view of Galway city at this time and presents insights into the cultural, sociopolitical and religious outlook of the local ruling elite — the so-called ‘tribes’ of Galway. Originally intended as a wall hanging, it was produced to impress and remains a centrepiece of Galway’s visual history.

Only two copies of the original printed map are known to exist and it is the well-preserved version from Trinity College, Dublin that is reproduced in Renaissance Galway. Following the format of previous map-guides from the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, the book presents carefully selected extracts from the pictorial map, each accompanied by a commentary. These range from descriptions of particular buildings or areas, to aspects of everyday life that are revealed in the map. In an introductory essay, the author ponders the many mysteries that continue to surround the pictorial map of Galway — its origins, compilers and purpose.

Together the map extracts and accompanying texts offer a new perspective — a window into the culture and mindset of Galway’s mid-seventeenth century ruling Catholic elite. The modern viewer is invited to inhabit the world of ‘Renaissance Galway’.

Renaissance Galway is produced with support from Galway City Council. 

The Irish Historic Towns Atlas is a research project of the Royal Irish Academy and is part of a wider European scheme.

Solve our book cover jigsaw puzzle here.


'Paul Walsh has selected 38 sections of the map, blown them up, and accompanied each with a wonderfully informative explanatory essay, and in doing so has presented us with a remarkable visual tour of the urban landscape of the period and also various coats of arms, allegorical images, and aspects of everyday life. [...]  very highly recommended'. Tom Kenny, Galway Advertiser, 03/10/2019. Read the full review here.

'38 chapters, or exciting avenues of extra knowledge, backed up by amazing large illustrations from sections of the map, insert even more life into this amazing piece of urban cartography. The amount of research undertaken by the author is immense'. Peadar O'Dowd, Galway Tribune, 18/10/2019.

'It is a remarkable and wonderful piece of work... There is much to savour here'. Joe Culley, History Ireland, Vol. 27, no. 6, November/December 2019.

- Seminar, Moore Institute, NUI Galway, 10 October 2019

- Launch of Renaissance Galway, Galway, 10 October 2019
- Launch of Renaissance Galway, Milwaukee, 19 August 2019

About the authors

Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh has spent his career working in Irish archaeology and has a passionate interest in the history and archaeology of his native city, Galway. His publications include Discover Galway (2001) and he is joint author with Jacinta Prunty of Galway c. 1200 to c. 1900: from medieval borough to modern city (2015) and Irish Historic Towns Atlas, no. 28, Galway/Gaillimh (2016).