Situated behind the famous Spanish Arch, Galway City Museum houses exhibitions which explore aspects of the history and heritage of Galway City, focusing on the medieval town, the Claddagh village and Galway, 1800-1950. In addition to these core exhibitions, the Museum mounts temporary exhibitions and hosts a variety of exhibits from other museums, galleries and special interest groups.
The highlights of the Museum are the Galway Civic Sword and Great Mace. The Civic Sword dates from the time of the Charter of King James I, which gave authority in 1610 for the carrying of such a weapon before the Mayor. The Great Mace, a massive piece of ornamental silverwork, was made in Dublin in 1710, and was presented to the town by Edward Eyre, Mayor of Galway, in 1712.
The Museum is also home to two iconic symbols of the city – the statue of Padraic Ó Conaire and a Galway Hooker, named ‘Máirtín Oliver’, which was made especially for the Museum. The building itself affords spectacular views of the Claddagh, the Spanish Arch, the River Corrib and Galway Bay.
The ground floor tells the story of contemporary Galway, with special emphasis on the role that the arts play in the city. The first floor brings medieval Galway to life in a very contemporary way, while the second floor houses an exhibition on the claddagh village, from post famine times to the early part of the last century