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Dunguaire Castle exterior
Location within Ireland
|Location||Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland|
Dunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire) is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland, near Kinvarra (also spelled Kinvara). The name derives from the Dun of King Guaire, the legendary king of Connacht. The castle's 75-foot tower and its defensive wall have been restored, and the grounds are open to tourists during the summer.
The great 19th century Gaelic scholar John O'Donovan states in his Ordnance Survey letters for County Galway and his book The Genealogies, Tribes and Customs of the Hy-Fiachrach that Dunguaire was built by the Ó hEidhin clan, chiefs of Coill Ua bhFiachrach, the district around Kinvara, and also of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne an area coextensive with the diocese of Kilmacduagh covering the part of county County Galway between the Burren and Galway Bay to the west and and Slieve Aughty to the east. A fferigh Oheyn (Fearadhach Ó hEidhin) is recorded as the owner of the castle in a 1574 list of castles and their owners covering County Galway which was thought to have been compiled for the use of the Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney who planned the Composition of Connacht. The same list states that Owen Mantagh Ohein (Eoghan Mantach Ó hEidhin) owned Kynvare Castle (Kinvara Castle) which was probably located at Cnocán na mBád which is an area of high ground behind the Pier Head restaurant in Kinvara. Eoghan Mantach became chief of the clan in 1578 following the death of his uncle Ruaidhrí na Coille Ó hEidhin. The earthen promontary fort or rath to the northeast of the towerhouse has been suggested as the site of Dúrlas Guaire or Ráth Dúrlais, the royal palace of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, the legendary king of Connacht and progenitor of the clan. The main events in the medieval Irish story called Tromdamh Guaire (Guaire's heavy host) take place at Dúrlas Guaire. This tale is a satire upon satirists and poets and is a pre-tale to the Táin Bó Cuailgne.
Other Ó hEidhin towerhouses in the district are Cahererillan, to the south of Kinvara, Caherglissaun and Lydacan castles to the southeast of Kinvara and Corranroo Castle (now totally demolished) at western extremity of the parish. Doonowen a drystone caher or ringfort overlooking Coole Lough at the most southerly end of their territory and bordering on O'Shaughnessy Country was still occupied by the branch of the clan in the early 1600s
Dunguaire Castle was used as a filming location for the Scottish castle home of the main character in the 1979 film North Sea Hijack.
Part of the lore about Dunguaire's Castle is that the Lord of the castle was very generous and he continued this generosity into the afterlife. One example of this is the story about a poor beggar whom King Guaire had often helped in life. The beggar visited the King's grave and said, "King Guaire, even you cannot help me now." Undeterred even by death, the King's skeletal hand dropped several gold coins at the beggar's feet. According to legend, still to this day, if a person stands at the front gate and asks a question, they will have an answer to their question by the end of the day.
- "The Road of the Dishes". Cathal O'Byrne The Irish Monthly, Vol. 64, No. 758 (Aug., 1936), pp. 548-550. Retrieved 2012-08-20.
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