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This article is about the village in south County Galway. For the townland in west County Galway, see Kinvara (Moycullen).
Cinn Mhara
Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle
Kinvara is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°08′20″N 8°56′17″W / 53.139°N 8.938°W / 53.139; -8.938Coordinates: 53°08′20″N 8°56′17″W / 53.139°N 8.938°W / 53.139; -8.938
Country Ireland
Province Connacht
County County Galway
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
 • Village 1,160
 • Urban 563
 • Environs 597
Dialing code 091
Irish Grid Reference M369103

Kinvara (Irish: Cinn Mhara, meaning "head of the sea") is a sea port village located in the south of County Galway, Ireland. The modern parish of Kinvara comprises the civil parishes of Kinvarradoorus and Killinny (Killina). Kinvara is occasionally spelled Kinvarra in English; this may be seen on some maps and road signs, although Kinvara is the most common spelling used nowadays. Kinvarra is still the official form of the name for the townland as shown on OSI maps[2] and this form is still used on polling cards as the name of the townland while the District Electoral Division (DED) is called Kinvara.

Kinvara's area population according to the 2006 Census was 1160. The Great Famine in the 1840s and a series of emigrations that continued up until the 1960s reduced the population of the village – once a thriving port and a significant exporter of corn and seaweed – to no more than a few hundred people. From around the 1980s the population of the parish of Kinvara started to increase while the village started to grow in size.


The village lies at the head of Kinvara Bay known in Irish as Cinn Mhara (or more recently Cuan Chinn Mhara) from which the village took its name. This is an inlet in the south-eastern corner of Galway Bay. Kinvara is situated in the territory of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne,[citation needed] which is coextensive with the diocese of Kilmacduagh (Cill Mhic Dhuach). The parish is roughly coextensive with the Ó hEidhin territory of Coill Ua bhFiachrach (wood of the Uí Fhiachrach) and this name was still in use in the mid 19th century as recorded by John O'Donovan in his Ordnance Survey letters. Kinvara is situated in the west of the barony of Kiltartan and close to the border with the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster. The parish is bounded on the north by Galway Bay, on the east by the parishes of Ballinderreen (Killeenavarra) and Ardrahan, on the south by the parishes of Gort (Kilmacduagh) and Boston (Kilkeedy) and on the west by the parishes of Carron and New Quay (Abbey and Oughtmama).


Dunguaire Castle[edit]

Main article: Dunguaire Castle
Dún Guaire castle

Dunguaire Castle (Irish Dún Guaire [lit, the Castle of Guaire]), a towerhouse of the Ó hEidhin (O Hynes) clan, is located to the east of the village.[citation needed] 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 on the quay. Eoghan Mantach became chief of the clan in 1578 following the death of his uncle Ruaidhrí na Coille Ó hEidhin. Other Ó hEidhin towerhouses in the area are Cahererillan (also known as Newtown) near Killina in the south of the parish and Caherglissaun (Caherglassaun) on the southeastern border of the parish which stands on a rocky outcrop over looking Caherglissaun turlough also known as Lough Deehan. Lydacan Castle which was the chief residence of the clan is located to the east of Caherglissaun beside a turlough just over the border in the parish of Ardrahan. Eoghan Mantach mentioned above is listed as owner in 1574. The castle can be seen on the road from Kinvara to Kiltartan. To the south of Caherglissaun the O'Hynes also held Doonowen a drystone caher or ringfort which is located on a rocky outcrop over looking Coole Lough. It was still occupied in 17th century. They also held Corranroo Castle located on a tiny islet at the western border of the parish just north of the bridge dividing Connacht and Munster. This castle collapsed during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and all that remains now are large blocks of masonary. This may have originally been held by the Ó Catháin (O'Keane) family of Leagh who claimed to be a branch of the O'Kane's of Keenaght in County Derry and had been connected to the Corcomroe Abbey since the 13th century. At that time Leagh was a district covering a much larger area than the present townland and streched along the border of the parish of Kinvara with the Burren. In the part of the 1574 castle list covering the barony of Kiltartan, Corranroo castle is not listed but a Rowycahan Castle is, which may be Rubha Uí Chatháin (Ó Catháin's Roo) as in the townlands of Corranroo, Inishroo and Roo Demesne. The list states that a Tege Ochane (Tadhg ó Catháin) owned the castle.

A view of Kinvara from Dunguaire Castle.

Terry Alts[edit]

The Terry Alt agrarian resistance movement of the early 19th century was active in the Kinvara area. In 1831, a large force of Terry Alts gathered over the border on Abbey Hill between Kinvara and New Quay in County Clare and challenged the English Crown forces to battle. They, however, dispersed before the arrival of the English forces. They also unsuccessfully attempted to ambush a body of English infantry at Corranroo in the west of the parish, which led to the death of one of their members.


Street of Kinvara in 2007

Kinvara is home every year to two festivals, Fleadh na gCuach ("the cuckoo festival") an Irish music festival at the start of May and the Cruinniú na mBád ("gathering of the boats") in mid August. Anthony Moylan is credited as the person who came up with the idea for the Fleadh on the new bank holiday weekend to commemorate the festival of Bealtaine, around which time the cuckoo is first heard. The Cruinniú na mBád, also largely the idea of Anthony Moylan, is the larger and longer-running, it celebrates the traditional sailing craft (Galway Hookers) and the trade they once did between Kinvara, western County Galway and the north of County Clare. Turf was imported into Kinvara from the west of County Galway while barley, lime, and timber was exported from Kinvara. Turf, the main fuel used here prior to coal and oil, had to be imported as Kinvara is in an area without bogs. The festival started in 1979 and features a series of boat races as well as a variety of other events on the pier. The Fleadh na gCuach (started in 1994) is a festival of Irish music that celebrates the old Irish festival of Bealtaine (the First of May), which in Ireland marks the start of Summer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Retrieved 2011-06-19.  total is of the Kinvara electoral area
  2. ^ Kinvarra, 1:50,000, Ordnance Survey of Ireland