Dunguaire Castle - Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
After visiting some incredible ancient sites (Caherconel, Stone Fort, Poulnabrone) in the Burren Region in County Clare, we visited the Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, County Galway. The village of Kinvara, located in the southern shores of Galway Bay, was once a thriving port. Kinvara, meaning "The Head of the Sea", is the gateway to the Burren in County Clare. We came from the Burren, about 30 minute driveto Kinvara.
It is said that Dunguaire Castle is the most photographed castle in Ireland. We just had to see it if it is indeed as picturesque as they say. We found out why it is popular. Dunguarie Castle (Irish - Dún Guaire) is conveniently located on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay practically right beside the road. It indeed has a picturesque setting. Castles and water go well together don't they? A perfect photo composition that everyone wants to capture, professional or not. There is something romantic about it, not to mention mythical, depending on how you look at it.
Dunguaire Castle was first built in 1520 by the Hynes clan, and is believed to be on the site of an old palace of the legendary king of Connacht, Guaire Aidhne. Very little is known of the history of the castle while under the Hynes clan's ownership. But in the 17th century, the English took the castle and gifted it to Oliver Martyn, an “Old Norman” who had shown loyalty to the crown.
Then in 1924, writer/surgeon Oliver St. John Gogarty purchased Dunguaire Castle. It was used as a retreat and meeting place for Irish literary greats such as W. B. Yates, George Bernard Shaw, Sean O’Casey, among others. Later on it was acquired in 1954 by Christobel Lady Amphill before it was turned over to an Irish corporation managing historic sites.
We skipped touring the castle, as we were flying to Scotland later that day and we wanted to have enough time to drive to the airport just in case we got held up in the traffic.
In summer, if you are staying in Kinvara and have time, the castle hosts dinner banquets and entertainment (Irish literature and Irish traditional music). It's a medieval-type banquet held each night throughout summer.