Galway is the capital of the West of Ireland and is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. It is the administrative centre of County Galway - a vigorous and expanding regional capital with a University, Regional Technical College, cathedral, busy seaport and an expanding airport. It is also the regional centre for a vast series of manufacturing, service and tourist based industries.
Galway was founded in the 13th century by the Anglo-Norman de Burgos as a medieval settlement on the eastern bank of the River Gaillimh (now the River Corrib). From 1270 onwards, it became a walled and fortified city state ruled by fourteen powerful merchant families, later known as the "Tribes of Galway". Through their trading skills, they succeeded in making Galway the third most important port in these islands. The city however fell into decline in the aftermath of two disastrous sieges, falling to Cromwellian might in 1652 and Williamite power in 1691. A brief industrial recovery based on water-powered industries in the 19th century was not sustained and Galway only regained its importance with the establishment of modern industrial estates and a huge growth in its tourist industry.
Situated between scenic Lough Corrib to the north and famed Galway Bay to the south, Galway, gateway to Connemara, the Corrib Country and the Aran Islands, has many attractions to offer tourist, student and native alike. Salthill, its seaside suburb, is Ireland's most popular seaside resort, with fine beaches and varied facilities ranging from indoor recreational centres and night spots to tennis and golf clubs. Ballyloughane Beach, on the eastern side of the city, is only a half mile from the RTC. The city centre, with its many fine hotels, shopping malls, theatres, art galleries, library, restaurants, pubs and discos, is only two miles from the College.
Festivals, cultural happenings, sporting events, and social occasions abound in this city by the Corrib. Once known as the limestone city, or as Baile na Sruthán (The City of the Streams), today, Galway delights in its new image as the city of youth. Many young Europeans come to study or holiday here and, together with the high ratio of native youth, bring a new vigour and vitality to ancient streets, which often echoed in the past to the banter of continental wine merchants. Galway is that kind of place.