Frozen in time, The Hall of the Red Earl stands as a tribute to and reminder of the medieval Galway of centuries gone by. Dating back to the 13th century, the archaeological ruins are linked to the founding of the city itself by the Anglo-Norman De Burgo clan. An incredibly significant monument, let’s dust off the history behind the glass panes on Druid Lane…
With origins in the 1200s, The Hall of the Red Earl was Galway’s very first municipal building and was utilised for tax collection, banquet hosting and the general administration of justice. Essentially a town hall, courthouse and tax office all under one roof, the building took its name from Richard de Burgo who just happened to be the Earl of Ulster, the grandson of the town’s founding father.
Over the years, the property is thought to have become an iron workshop until, drawing towards the end of the 15th century, the famous Galway Tribes seized power from the de Burgo family and ran them out of town by force. After this point, the hall was abandoned and slowly began to fall into ruin and over the course of the following years was covered up and built over, leaving no trace of its centuries of history behind.
That was of course until 1997, when the Office of Public Works were planning to construct an extension on the adjacent Revenue Commissioners offices onto the site of the hidden away Hall of the Red Earl. When the remains were unearthed by the archaeologists, it was identified with the help of the brilliant 1951 Pictorial Map of Galway City that listed the site as "the old castle of the most illustrious Lord, Richard de Burgo, the Red Earl". The proposed plans were quickly redesigned to allow for the preservation of this historical monument.
After a major excavation, over 11,000 artifacts were found on the site and plans were put in motion to encase the hall within glass panelling, add in a viewing gangway interpretive boards to explain the significance of both the site itself and the many artefact replicas - such as clay pipes and gold cufflinks - that are displayed prominently within. In the years since the site was transformed into an intriguing tourist attraction, hundreds upon thousands of people have made their way down Druid Lane to catch a glimpse into the Galway of 900 years ago.
Invigilated by Dúchas na Gaillimhe - Galway Civic Trust - The Hall of the Red Earl stands as an esteemed reminder of the city’s medieval origins in the midst of an ever-evolving city. To find out more about the location, click HERE.