Known for its bountiful banquets and storied history, Dunguaire Castle is rumoured to be the most photographed castle in Ireland and it’s no surprise why. Incredibly picturesque, the castle enjoys a prime roadside location by the seaside village of Kinvara and - while it may be closed for the time being - it’s on the top of our list to visit once it’s back in action.
First built in 1520 and changing hands a number of times since, Dunguaire has seen many noteworthy names pass through its doors. With this year marking the castle’s 500th anniversary, there’s no better time to look back on the history of this building…
Drawing its name from the King of Connacht - Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin - Dunguaire Castle was built on the southern shores of Galway Bay by the O’Hynes clan in the early 16th century. Later passed on to the Martyn’s of Galway, it was not until the 17th century that the former mayor of Galway, Richard Oge Martyn, took ownership of the site and continued to keep its possession within the family until 1924.
Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara courtesy | © Jerry Martinez
It was then that Oliver St John Gotary purchased Dunguaire and began to repair and restore the site. With a great resurgence of Irish literature taking place at this time throughout Ireland, with Oliver - a famous literary figure - at the helm, this Kinvara castle became a popular meeting place of literary revivalists, welcoming the likes of WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and JM Synge.
In 1954, Christobel Lady Amptill - the final private owner of the site - set about completing the restorations begun by Oliver St John Gortary and the castle subsequently became the property of the Shannon Group, who continue to occupy the castle to this day, maintaining the beautiful depiction of 16th century living it once was.
While it may be a relatively small traditional Irish tower house, Dunguaire Castle’s rich heritage and close ties to the 20th century literary revival have made this historical building an incredibly popular tourist attraction here in Galway. Hosting medieval banquets, school tours and thought-provoking tours, a visit to this Kinvara castle should definitely be on the cards sometime soon.
To find out more, take a look at the DUNGUAIRE CASTLE WEBSITE.
Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara courtesy | © Bernd Thaller