County on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland, in the province of Connacht; county town Galway; area 5,940 sq km/2,293 sq mi; population (2002) 209,100. Lead and zinc are found at Tynagh, and marble is quarried and processed at several sites. The main farming activity is cattle and sheep grazing. The Connemara National Park is in Galway. Towns include Salthill, a suburb of Galway city and seaside resort, Ballinasloe, Clifden, and Tuam.
Galway is rich in early archaeological remains, including ring forts, tumuli, stone circles, and crannógs (artificial islands); the Turoe Stone with its La Tène carvings dates from the 1st century BC. There are also a significant number of monastic remains in the county. Much of west Galway, including parts of Connemara, is a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area).
The east is low-lying, fertile, limestone plain, but in the west the surface is mountainous, with the Twelve Bens group, the highest of which is Benbaun (730 m/2,395 ft), and the Maamturk Mountains, which rise to over 701 m/2,300 ft; in the south are the Slieve Aughty Mountains, which include Mweelrea Mountain (819 m/2,688 ft). Also in the south is Galway Bay, with the Aran Islands. To the west of Lough Corrib is Connemara. The Shannon is the principal river.
Coast and waterways
The county is bounded to the west by the Atlantic (where the coast is much indented); to the south by County Clare; to the southeast by County Tipperary, Lough Derg, and the River Shannon; to the east by counties Offaly and Roscommon; and to the north by Roscommon and Mayo. Among the islands off the coast are Inishbofin, Inishark, and Gorumna in the northwest, and the Aran Islands in the southwest. The chief rivers, other than the Shannon, are the Shannon's tributaries the Corrib, the Suck, and the Clare. A branch of the Grand Canal connects the harbour at Shannon with Ballinasloe, but is closed to navigation.
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