Take a walk around 17th century Galway?

There are buildings, streets, and ruins surviving from Galway’s Elizabethan heyday in the 1600s, but it is still difficult to imagine what the entire city would have looked like then.

The best guide to the city back then, its layout, look, and architecture, is the famous 1651 Pictorial Map, even though the map itself was printed some time between 1660 and 1686.

The extended title of the map tells the reader that it is a delineation historica – a ‘historical delineation’ – and as such, everything it shows is not necessarily represented accurately in either time or space, and the architecture shown in the map and animation is the culmination of 400 years of building from the city’s beginnings in the late 13th century to the eve of the Cromwellian invasion.

Now, however Galwegians will be able to stroll through the city’s Mediaeval, Tudor, and Elizabethan streets thanks to a new interactive 3-D model of the city, developed by Galway company RealSim. It also includes a feature, whereby the user can switch between the medieval and modern streets.

To get a taste of the interactive model, a four minute video on YouTube is available to view.

Over a six-month period, RealSim’s archaeological consultant and 3-D artist Robyn Mason researched the Pictorial Map. Experts, including academic and commercial archaeologists and historians, were interviewed and consulted.

At the same time, 3-D artists at RealSim continued to model the buildings shown in the map, the city walls and the surrounding landscape. The ‘colouring’ or ‘textures’ of the model were where possible photographs of various Irish walls, windows, and stones correct to the period shown in the map.

Once the modern and medieval models were complete the RealSim team designed and coded the interpretative display for touch screen, with the accompanying text provided by Galway City Museum.

“The model is an invaluable addition to our medieval gallery and is already a big hit with children of all ages,” said Brendan McGowan, acting director of the museum. “It really gives a sense of what it was like to roam the streets of Galway some 350 years ago and includes many familiar buildings and landmarks.”

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