Dunguaire Castle

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Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle, Galway, Ireland.png
Dunguaire Castle exterior
Dunguaire Castle is located in Ireland
Dunguaire Castle
Location within Ireland
General information
Location Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland
Coordinates 53°08′31″N 8°55′34″W / 53.142°N 8.926°W / 53.142; -8.926
Completed 16th Century
Client Hynes Clan

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 castle was built by the Hynes clan around 1520, a family who may have been associated with the area since around 662. At the time, the royal palace of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, the legendary king of Connacht and progenitor of the clan is believed to have been in this area. According to current thinking by archeologists, the original dun was most likely a ring fort, the remains of which can be found on the small promontory just to the northeast of the current castle.

Dunguaire Castle was transferred in the 17th century to Oliver Martin (father of Richard Martin fitz Oliver). Richard Martin (or Martyn) lived here until 1642. Dunguaire Castle remained in his family. However, their main seat was Tullira (or Tulira) Castle near Gort and Dunguaire fell into disrepair. In 1924, after Edward Martyn and with him the senior line of the family had died in 1922, the surgeon and poet Oliver St. John Gogarty purchased Dunguaire. Gogarty began restoring the castle and established it as the meeting place for the leading figures of the Celtic Revival, such as W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Augusta, Lady Gregory, and John Millington Synge.

The castle was acquired in 1954 by Christabel Lady Ampthill, who completed the restoration work started by Gogarty. It was later purchased by Shannon Development, an Irish corporation that manages numerous historic tourist attractions in Ireland. During the summer months when Dunguaire Castle is open to the public, a Medieval Banquet is held every night with costumed performers who recite Irish literature and play traditional Irish music.

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.

Another regionally well known legend is the "Road of the Dishes" (Bothar na Mias), involving King Guaire and St. Colman of Kilmacduagh.[1]


  1. ^ "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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Coordinates: 53°08′31″N 8°55′34″W / 53.142°N 8.926°W / 53.142; -8.926