The first "Galway Bay," known to those living in and around Galway Bay, Ireland as "(My Own Dear) Galway Bay," was written by Frank A. Fahy (1854–1935). It's been a folk favorite ever since, with the most highly regarded recording of it being Dolores Keane's.
The version best known outside of Galway Bay was written by Arthur Colahan in 1947 and recorded by Bing Crosby on November 27 of that same year. Driven largely by its popularity among Irish immigrants, the song rose to #3 in the States on Billboard's Retailers Pick chart.
The original lyrics were more political, including a reference to English occupation with the line, "Speak a language that the English do not know." Crosby changed it to, "Speak a language that the strangers do not know" to be less politically controversial.
"Galway Bay" is an idyllic song full of pastoral imagery; it's easy to see how it appealed the nostalgia and sentimentality of Irish immigrants.
Box and Cox Publications of London, England, hold the copyright to this song. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem recorded a humorous version of the song. Ruby Miller covered Crosby's version on 1955's When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.