The Tribes of Galway (Irish : Treibheanna na Gaillimhe) were 14 merchant families who dominated the political, commercial and social life of the city of Galway in western Ireland between the mid-13th and late 19th centuries. They were the families of Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy/D’Arcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morris and Skerritt. Of the 14 families, 12 were of Anglo Norman origin, while two—the Darcy (Ó Dorchaidhe) and Kirwan (Ó Ciardhubháin) families—were Normanised Irish Gaels.
The Tribes were merchant families who prospered from trade with continental Europe. They dominated Galway's municipal government during the medieval and early modern eras.
The Tribes distinguished themselves from the Gaelic peoples who lived in the hinterland of the city. Many of these families spoke Irish as a second or even first language. However, the feared suppression of their common faith joined both groups together as Irish Catholics after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. During the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–1653), Galway took the side of the Confederate Catholics. Following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, the English government punished the Tribes. Galway was besieged and after it surrendered in April 1652, the Tribes had to face the confiscation of their property by the New Model Army.
The Tribes lost much of their power within Galway city after English Parliamentarians took over the Galway Corporation in 1654. Cromwell's forces referred to them by the derogatory name, "The Tribes of Galway", which the families later adopted as a mark of defiance.
Galway's urban elite gained a restoration of some of their power during the reign of the King Charles II (1660–1685) and his successor James II. However, Jacobite defeat in the War of the Two Kings (1689–91), marked the end of the Tribes' once overwhelming political influence on the life of the city. Power passed to the small Protestant population. Garrison members of the Tribes who owned land in Galway and Mayo were protected by the advantageous surrender provisions that were signed on 22 July 1691.
Similar to the nicknames used for other Irish counties, Galway city and county and its people are known as the tribesmen. This nickname is derived from this term.
The tribes also lend their names to 14 of the roundabouts in or around the boundaries of Galway city. The roundabouts are signposted on navy blue signs containing the tribe's name in the Irish language.
Galway is a city in the West of Ireland, in the province of Connacht, which is the county town of County Galway. It lies on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay. It is the most populous settlement in the province of Connacht, the sixth most populous city on the island of Ireland and the fourth most populous in the Republic of Ireland, with a population at the 2022 census of 83,456.
Richard Óge Martyn was a Galway lawyer and member of the Catholic Confederates of Ireland. He was of the senior line of the Martyn family, one of the Tribes of Galway. He lived at Dunguaire Castle, Kinvarra. He worked with his brother-in-law and first cousin, Patrick D'Arcy, against the Plantation of Connaught in the 1630s, and served on the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics in the 1640s.
Michael Morris, Baron Morris and 1st Baron Killanin,, known as Sir Michael Morris, Bt, from 1885 to 1889, was an Irish lawyer and judge. He was Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench for Ireland from 1887 to 1889 and sat in the House of Lords as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary from 1889 to 1900.
Patrick D'Arcy (1598–1668) was an Irish Catholic Confederate and lawyer who wrote the constitution of Confederate Ireland.
Mother Mary Bonaventure Browne was a Poor Clare nun, abbess, and Irish historian.
Thomas Óge Martyn, Mayor of Galway, fl. 1533-c. 1577.
Dominick Kirwin was an Irish Confederate, fl. 1642–1653?
Margaret Athy was an Irish religious patron.
Maria Gabriel Martyn (1604–1672) was Abbess of the Poor Clares of Galway.
Seoirse Brún, was an Irish scribe, fl. 1876. Brún, a native of Creggduff, Annaghdown, County Galway, is known only from a manuscript called RBÉ F006. It contains the following note:
George Browne Cregg Duff This Book/Belongs to him For Certain No Other Person/in This Locality can claim on This/Book but him Alone When he is Dead/and his bones are rotten This Little Book/Will tell his Name when he is quite/Forgotten Given under My ha[n]d this 18th Day of Oct 1876 - George Browne/Cregg Duff Annadown/County of Galway Ireland, The European Iliad.
William Ó Ciardhubháin, fl. 1488, was an Irish merchant and the founder of one of the Tribes of Galway.
Tomás Bobhdacing, founder of the Bodkin family of The Tribes of Galway, fl. c. 1300.
Sir Henry Lynch, 1st Baronet was an Irish baronet, knight, lawyer, and land agent. Lynch was among the first of his family to become a lawyer, and several of his younger sons followed him into this profession, as did, under his influence, Patrick D'Arcy, Richard Martyn, and Geoffrey Browne and many of the later generations of the Tribes of Galway.
Risteárd Buidhe Kirwan (1708–1779) was an Irish soldier and duellist.
Stephen Lynch was the 23rd Mayor of Galway, serving from 1507 to 1510.
James Riabhach Darcy was Mayor of Galway in Ireland 1602–1603.
Sir Dominick Browne, Irish merchant and landowner, c. 1585 – c. 1656.
Geoffrey Browne was an Irish lawyer and politician.
Walter Riabhac Ó Dorchaidhe, Irish merchant and founder of the Darcy tribe of Galway, fl. c. 1488.