NUI Galway was founded in 1845 and, back then, had been known as the Queen’s College, Galway. The university is ranked among the top 2 per cent of universities in the world. The oldest part of the university, the Quadrangle building with its Aula Maxima was designed by John Benjamin Keane.

Alumni of the university include the former Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, actor and celebrity, Martin Sheen, along with numerous other prominent figures. 

Nelson Mandela made a memorable appearance at the University in 2003. On what was his last visit to Ireland, Mandela condemned U.S. foreign policy and received an honorary doctorate from NUI Chancellor Garret FitzGerald.