Dunguaire Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Dunguaire Castle

County Galway, Ireland

Image Credit: Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock

About Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle is a partially restored 16th century tower house on the shores of Galway Bay, Ireland.

History of Dunguaire Castle

Back in the 6th century, the King of Connaught, Guaire Aidhne, had a royal palace where Dunguaire Castle now stands. The O’Hynes Clan erected Dunguaire Castle around 1520, and in the early 17th century, the former Mayor of Galway, Richard Martyn, came to own the castle.

The Martyns owned Dunguaire until 1924, when it was sold to Oliver St John Gogarty, a notable Irish writer. Gogarty made significant improvements and restorations to the castle, and Dunguaire was frequented by major names in literature at the time, including W. B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and J. M. Synge.

Dunguaire was later bought for the modern day equivalent of €500 by Lady Christabel Ampthill, who lived there from the 1950s to the 1970s. Having divorced her husband following a scandalous court case involving the paternity of her son, Lady Christabel moved to Ireland permanently in the 1930s, and was well-liked and respected in the Kinvara community. Her bedroom was in what is now the craft room, and her living room on the top floor.

Eventually Dunguaire Castle passed into the hands of Shannon Heritage, who operate the site today.

Dunguaire Castle today

Dunguaire Castle is open to the public from April to mid September each year: the view from the roof out across Galway Bay is phenomenal, and well worth the entrance fee (assuming you manage to visit on a clear day – otherwise you may simply be faced with mist and grey clouds).

In a concession to the tour groups that regularly visit Galway, the castle holds nightly banquets in the summer, which feature a 4 course meal and local entertainment, normally vaguely in line with the Celtic Bard tradition. These must be booked in advance.

Getting to Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle is on the west coast of Ireland, a kilometre outside Kinvara, County Galway. It’s best accessed via the N67, and is about 40 minutes drive from Galway. Brown signs will direct you the last stretch of the way. Bus route 350 takes you from Galway to Kinvara – from there it’s a 10 minute walk to the castle.