From the mid 13th onwards 14 merchant families basically dominated the area through politics, commerce and social life. The families were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'Arcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morris and Skerrett. The families traded with continental Europe. "The Tribes of Galway" was a derogatory term given by Oliver Cromwell but it was later adopted as a mark of defiance.
I have to say that the banners are a very colorful and striking way to introduce non-locals to the history of the town. The doorway to the old Browne family resident is now preserved as a monument on Eyre Square.
If you want to find out more about each family visit http://www.galway-ireland.ie/galway-tribes.htm
Later on our tour the bus guide told us that the number 14 shows up in other areas of Galway. 14 roundabouts and 14 childrens playgrounds being two examples he cited.