Coordinates: 53°08′20″N 8°56′17″W / 53.139°N 8.938°W / 53.139; -8.938
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Irish: 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; -8.938
CountyCounty Galway
10 m (30 ft)
Dialing code091
Irish Grid ReferenceM369103

Kinvara or Kinvarra (Irish: Cinn Mhara, meaning 'head of the sea')[2] is a sea port village in the southwest of County Galway, Ireland.[3] It is located in the civil parish of Kinvarradoorus in the north of the barony of Kiltartan.[4] Kinvarra is also an electoral division.[5]


The village lies at the head of Kinvara Bay, known in Irish as Cinn Mhara (or more recently Cuan Cinn Mhara), an inlet in the south-eastern corner of Galway Bay, from which the village took its name. It lies in the north of the barony of Kiltartan, close to the border with The Burren in County Clare, in the province of Munster.

The townland of Kinvarra lies in the civil parish of Kinvarradoorus.[6] This civil 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). It is roughly coextensive with the Ó hEidhin territory of Coill Ua bhFiachrach (wood of the Uí Fhiachrach),[citation needed] and this name was still in use in the mid-19th century as recorded by John O'Donovan in his Ordnance Survey letters.[citation needed]


Early history[edit]

Evidence of ancient settlement in the area include a number of promontory fort and ring fort sites in the surrounding townlands of Dungory West, Ballybranagan and Loughcurra North.[7][8] There are similar sites, as well as the ruins of lime kiln and 18th century windmill, within Kinvarra townland itself.[7][9]

Dunguaire Castle[edit]

Dún Guaire castle

Dunguaire Castle (Irish: Dún Guaire [lit, the Castle of Guaire]), a 16th-century towerhouse of the Ó hEidhin (O'Hynes) clan, is located to the east of the village.[10] A Fearadhach Ó hEidhin (Faragh O'Hynes) is recorded as the owner of the castle in a 1574 list of castles and their owners covering County Galway. This list was thought to have been compiled for the use of the Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney who planned the composition of Connacht.[citation needed]

View of Kinvara from Dún Guaire Castle

Mass rock[edit]

The Poulnegan Altar, a Mass rock located near Kinvara, is known in Connaught Irish as Poll na gCeann ("chasm of the heads") and is said to have been the location of a massacre by the soldiers of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. Historian Tony Nugent states that, "According to local tradition, there was a college nearby and some of the student monks were killed there by Cromwellian soldiers while attending Mass and their heads were thrown into a nearby chasm".[11]

Terry Alts[edit]

The Terry Alts, an Irish agrarian secret society of the early 19th century, was active in the Kinvara area.[citation needed] In 1831, a large group of Terry Alts gathered between Kinvara and New Quay on Abbey Hill in County Clare, and challenged government troops to battle. The group dispersed before the troops arrived. They also unsuccessfully attempted to ambush a detachment of soldiers at Corranroo in the west of the parish, which led to the death of one of their members.[citation needed]


The Great Famine in the 1840s, and a series of emigrations that continued until the 1960s, reduced the population of the village – once a thriving port and exporter of corn and seaweed – to no more than a few hundred people.[citation needed]

In the 25 years between the 1991 and 2016 census, the population of Kinvara increased by 170%, from 425 to 734 people.[12][13]


In the Catholic Church, the ecclesiastical parish of Kinvara is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.[14] Churches within Kinvara parish include Saint Colman's Church (built 1819) and Saint Joseph's Church (built 1877).[15][16] Saint Joseph's Presbytery, formerly a convent, dates to c. 1875.[17]

Kinvara lies within the Church of Ireland united Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.


Street of Kinvara in 2007

Kinvara is home every year to two festivals, Fleadh na gCuach ("cuckoo festival") an Irish traditional music festival at the start of May and the Cruinniú na mBád ("gathering of the boats") in mid August.[18][19]


Kinvara is home to Kinvara GAA, a Gaelic Athletic Association club. The club is almost exclusively concerned with hurling but also plays Gaelic football at Junior level.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Profile 1 - Population Distribution and Movement F1015 - Population: Kinvara, Co. Galway". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Cinn Mhara / Kinvarra (town)". Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Kinvarra, 1:50,000". Ordnance Survey Ireland. Archived from the original on 29 May 2010.
  4. ^ "Kinvarradoorus civil parish". Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Cinn Mhara / Kinvarra (electoral division)". Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Kinvarra Townland, Co. Galway". Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b Recorded Monuments Protected under Section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994 - County Galway. Dublin: Archaeological Survey of Ireland. 1997.
  8. ^ Westropp, T.J. (1919). "Notes on several forts in Dunkellin and other parts of southern Co. Galway". Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (49): 167–86.
  9. ^ "Windmill, Kinvarra (Kiltartan By), Kinvara, Galway". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Dunguaire Castle". Galway Tourism. 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  11. ^ Nugent, Tony (2013). Were You at the Rock? The History of Mass Rocks in Ireland. Liffey Press. p. 149.
  12. ^ "Kinvara (Ireland) Census Town". City Population. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Sapmap Area - Settlements - Kinvara". Census 2016. Central Statistics Office. April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Diocese of Galway & Kilmacduagh - Parishes - Kinvara". Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Saint Colman's Church, Ballybranagan, Kinvara, Galway". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Saint Joseph's Church, Kinvarra (Kiltartan By), Kinvara, Galway". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Saint Joseph's Presbytery, Convent Road, Kinvarra (Kiltartan By), Kinvara, Galway". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Fleadh na gCuach – Kinvara". Archived from the original on 5 May 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  19. ^ "Cruinniú na mBád – Kinvara". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  20. ^ Rouse, Paul (October 2009). "Fahy, Francis Arthur". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  21. ^ "Path Breaking Women" (PDF). NUI Galway. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 November 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  22. ^ Siggins, Lorna. "Former taoisigh among mourners at PJ Mara's burial". Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  23. ^ Ball, F. Elrington (1926). The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 (Volume 1). London: John Murray. p. 364.
  24. ^ Breen, Joe (14 August 2017). "John Prine: 'The country music they play now is just bad pop'". Irish Times. Retrieved 27 April 2021. [Prine] likes to spend time in this country and not just because he met his wife, Fiona, here. They have a cottage in Kinvara, Co Galway
  25. ^ Corless, Nicholas. "Kinvara woman new Chief Justice in Seychelles". The Clare Champion. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  26. ^ Farrell, Sinead (3 April 2020). "'They were proactive to stop the spread' - Galway star praises locals at home after spate of Covid-19 cases". Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  27. ^ Cullen, Paul (10 March 2011). "First female Attorney General a 'smart and able advocate'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 27 April 2021.