The Hall of the Red Earl is the oldest excavated building in medieval Galway. This archaeological site, located on Druid Lane, reveals the fascinating history of the city and its founders, the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family.

The Hall of the Red Earl was built in the late 13th century by Richard de Burgo, the third Earl of Ulster and grandson of Walter de Burgo, who established Galway as a town in 1232. The hall was named after Richard’s red hair and beard, which distinguished him from his ancestors.

The hall served as Galway’s first municipal building, where taxes were collected, justice was dispensed, and banquets were hosted. It was also the seat of the De Burgo lordship, which controlled much of Connacht and Ulster. The hall was a symbol of the De Burgo power and prestige in medieval Ireland.

The Hall of the Red Earl thrived until the late 15th century, when the De Burgos lost their influence and authority in Galway. The rise of the Tribes, a group of fourteen merchant families who dominated the city’s trade and politics, led to the expulsion of the De Burgos from Galway. The hall was abandoned and fell into ruin, and was eventually covered by later buildings.

The hall remained hidden for centuries, until it was rediscovered in 1997 by archaeologists from the Office of Public Works (OPW), who were planning to extend nearby offices. The excavation revealed a treasure trove of over 11,000 artefacts, ranging from pottery and coins to jewellery and weapons. The artefacts shed light on the daily life and culture of medieval Galway.

The discovery of the Hall of the Red Earl prompted the redesign of the then adjacent Revenue Commissioners offices to preserve and protect the archaeological site. The hall is now enclosed by glass panels, surrounded by a viewing gangway and floodlights, offering visitors an immersive experience.

The site is managed by Dúchas na Gaillimhe – Galway Civic Trust, a non-profit organisation that promotes the heritage and environment of Galway. The trust provides interpretive panels that explain the historical significance of the hall, and displays replicas of some of the artefacts found at the site. The hall is a testament to the medieval roots of Galway, and invites visitors to explore and appreciate its rich history.

The Hall of the Red Earl is open to the public from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and admission is free, but donations are welcome. The hall is located on Druid Lane, off Quay Street, in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter. 

The Hall of the Red Earl is a must-see for anyone who loves history and archaeology. It is a rare opportunity to witness a medieval building that has survived for over 700 years, and to discover how it shaped Galway’s past and present.


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Hall of the Red Earl



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