Songplaces

Galway Bay, Ireland

Galway Bay by Doctor Arthur Colahan

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If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay
A view of Galway Bay from Salthill
It's not often you get two songs with the same title, but there is "Galway Bay" the old version, written about 1900, and "Galway Bay" the second version, written in 1947 and made famous by Bing Crosby.

This article is about the second and more famous version, but both extol the scenic beauty of this glorious party of the Emerald Isle.

The first version is about an Irishman who moves to Illinois in the USA but has fond memories of growing up in Ireland near his much-loved Galway Bay. The second version waxes lyrical about the scenery and finishes with the singer hoping heaven is just like this enchanting spot.

While Bing Crosby gave the song huge international coverage, other well-known performers have also recorded this song. The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners are just two who have performed "Galway Bay."

The creator of Galway Bay was a quiet doctor who was born in Ireland, who died in England and was buried in an unmarked grave back in his beloved Irish homeland. Arthur Colaman never got to see the huge success of his "Galway Bay" song. He never knew Bing Crosby changed his lyrics from "speak a language that the English do not know" to "speak a language that the strangers do not know."
Between the Burren and Galway Bay, Ireland
The Colaman family grave in Galway cemetery makes no mention of his burial and few of his family attended his funeral. The song was used in the 1952 movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, but Arthur Colaman's name does not appear in the credits. It seems this songwriter was forgotten by almost everyone.

Galway Bay is a real place, a large bay on the wild and wonderful west coast of Ireland between County Galway and County Clare. It's popular as a recreational water sports area and is about 50 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide. Galway Bay is dotted with many small islands and the countryside around the fringes of the Bay is said to be some of the most beautiful in Ireland.

Fishing was once a mainstay of the area and a special boat, unique to the Bay, was built and sailed locally and called The Galway Hooker. Sadly as fish stocks have dwindled and modern methods developed, the Bay no longer sees the bright sails of The Galway Hooker's racing across the water.

Comments: 1

  • Patti from Ireland. Uk For 42 Years. Thanks for highlighting that information .It goes to show some may have gone but are not forgotten. I came across the information whilst trying to find out how to get information on finding my Grandfather's unmarked grave in the auld country.Thanks.
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