Towns of Galway
Tuam —County Galway
Tuam lies 32 km north of Galway City and is one of the largest towns in the county. It owes its origin, according to legend, to a broken chariot wheel which St Jarlath took as a sign to found his monastic settlement here in the 5th century. It is thought they may also have had a part in building a fine cathedral, which was subsequently destroyed. The chancel and magnificent Hiberno-Romanesque arch of this building survived, however, and are now incorporated in St Mary's Cathedral, erected for the Church of Ireland between 1861-78 to a design by St Thomas Deane. Tuam became the seat of an Archbishop after the Synod of Kells in 1152. The Norman conquest of 1235 put an end to the O'Connor reign, however, and left Tuam in ruins. Only a small part of the O'Connor castle, known locally as the 'Chair of Tuam' remains as does portions of Teampall Jarlath, the 13th century parish church. Despite the difficult times which followed, Tuam retained its Archbishop's seat and there was great rejoicing when Archbishop John McHale consecreated the new Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption in 1836. Today, both cathedrals are the jewels of Tuam and the marvellous chancel arch and windows, not to mention the restored 14th century Synod Hall of St Mary's contrast well with the soaring splendour of the tower and spires of the other. Beside the little river at the lower end of the town, one should pay a visit to the Mill Museum complex consisting of a restored corn mill with operating water wheel, an audiovisual museum and Tourist Information Office.
A recent addition is the Garden of Remembrance to local girl, Ann McHugh, who was a '11th September' victim in the U.S.