If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience in Ireland, you should not miss visiting Dunguaire Castle, a 16th-century tower house that stands on a rocky outcrop on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay, near the charming village of Kinvara. Dunguaire Castle is one of the most picturesque and well-preserved castles in Ireland, and it has a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries.
Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan, who were the chiefs of Coill Ua bhFiachrach, the district around Kinvara, and also of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne, an area covering the part of County Galway between the Burren and Galway Bay to the west and Slieve Aughty to the east. The castle was named after King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht, who was said to have lived in a fort on the same site in the 7th century. King Guaire was renowned for his generosity and hospitality, and according to a legend, he once sent his servants to fetch all the dishes from his table to feed a poor beggar who had asked for alms. The road along which the dishes were carried is still known as Bothar na Mias, or the Road of the Dishes.
In the early 17th century, the castle passed into the hands of the Martyns of Galway, a prominent Anglo-Norman family who had settled in the area after the Norman invasion of Ireland. Richard Martyn, Mayor of Galway, lived in the castle until 1642, and his descendants owned it until the 20th century. The Martyns made some alterations to the castle, such as adding a bawn (a defensive wall) and a gatehouse. They also hosted many literary and artistic figures at the castle, such as George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Oliver St John Gogarty.
In 1924, the castle was bought by Oliver St John Gogarty himself, a famous poet, surgeon, and politician, who was also a friend of James Joyce and an inspiration for his character Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. Gogarty restored the castle and continued the tradition of holding literary gatherings and cultural events there. He also used the castle as his summer residence and wrote some of his works there.
In 1954, the castle was sold to Christobel Lady Ampthill, who further restored it and opened it to the public. In 1979, Shannon Development acquired the castle and made it part of its network of tourist attractions in Ireland. Today, Dunguaire Castle is open to visitors from April to October, and offers guided tours, medieval banquets, educational programs, and cultural events. Visitors can explore the castle’s interior, which features a great hall, a banquet hall, a kitchen, a chapel, and four bedrooms. They can also enjoy stunning views of Galway Bay and the surrounding countryside from the castle’s 75-foot (23 m) tower.
Dunguaire Castle is more than just a historic building; it is a living monument to Ireland’s rich heritage and culture. It is a place where you can immerse yourself in the stories and legends of Ireland’s past, and experience its vibrant present. Whether you are interested in history, literature, art, or cuisine, you will find something to delight you at Dunguaire Castle.
If you are planning to visit Dunguaire Castle, you can book your tickets online on the Castle website or by phoning. You can also find more information about the castle’s history, banquets, events, and education programs on their website.
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