Complete Guide to Dunguaire Castle, County Galway

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Dunguaire Castle, a striking medieval tower located on one of the main routes through County Galway in Ireland, is a rich testament to the enduring nature of Ireland’s ancient monuments. The castle is perched on the shores of Galway Bay and its stone walls and unique setting give visitors a chance to glimpse a little of Ireland’s past. Plus, it’s neatly situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, making it an easy stopping point on a longer itinerary.

There are at least three ways to visit Dunguaire Castle: stop off for a photo opportunity, visit the interior of the Castle for a short tour, or enjoy a medieval-style banquet if you’re staying nearby. Note: Dunguaire Castle is NOT open all year. It has a summer season (photo opportunities are year-round!).

Dunguaire Castle, County Galway

Dunguaire Castle, Dungory West, Kinvarra, Co. Galway

Coordinates: 53.1422832463451, -8.925206454769327

Beautiful setting, perfect for photographers

Parking can be a little tricky

Summer season from April to the end of September

Ancient Castle
Amazing Viewpoints
Restaurant (€63pp)
Toilets
Tickets from €7.50

What is it?

Dunguaire Castle is a beautiful medieval castle, which makes a worthwhile photo stop (winter) or visit (open during the summer). If visitors are driving South from Galway towards Doolin or the Cliffs of Moher (or vice versa), then you’ll find the castle on the shores of Galway Bay near Kinvara, County Galway.

A view of Dunguaire Castle from the footpath along the main road through Kinvara.

Tours that visit Dunguaire Castle

The rest of this article describes how to visit Dunguaire Castle on a self-organised trip, so read on below if that’s you! However, if you’d like to visit as part of an organised trip, the following are popular options:

From Galway – Full Day Tour including Cliffs of Moher, Dunguaire Castle and Ailwee Cave
(9 hour trip starting/ending in Galway)

From Galway – Cliffs of Moher Day Trip from Galway (includes Dunguaire Castle)
(8 hours coach trip)

Self-Organised Visits to Dunguaire Castle

If you’re driving solo or with family and friends, then you can easily make a stop at this gem of a castle. Dunguaire Castle is open for visitors from April to September each year. Visitors can choose from a Day Ticket or to take part in a Medieval Banquet.

DAY TICKET

Adults – €7.50
Children – €5
>go> | More details here

MEDIEVAL BANQUET TICKET

Adults – €63
Children – €35
>go> | More details here

Note: I have no affiliation with Dunguaire Castle. Links are provided for your reference and should not be considered as a recommendation.

How to get to Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle is on the route between Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. Leave Galway heading for the N67 route south. It will take about 40 minutes to reach the village of Kinvara and Dunguaire Castle will be on your right hand side as you enter the village (parking on the left).

Leaving the Cliffs of Moher, head North on the N67 route towards Galway. It will take around 55-60 minutes to reach Kinvara and Dunguaire Castle will on your left hand side. The car park will be before the castle on the right.

Parking and Facilities

There is a formal car park which you should use for visiting the castle. It’s on the left hand side as you pass the castle heading towards the Cliffs of Moher. However, as I was in my camper van, I couldn’t see the entrance clearly. I drove past the castle and was able to pull in at the side of the road on the left hand side (heading south). The official website indicates the location of the proper car park.

There is a toilet / restroom inside the Castle, but it is available only to paying customers (and bear in mind the Castle is open only from April to September). Plan accordingly!

Quick History

Dunguaire Castle was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes Family. The name ‘Dunguaire’ comes from the Dun (fort) of King Guaire, who was a renowned King of Connacht (he died in 663). It consists of a central castle tower (75 feet / 23 metres) and a defensive wall, both of which have been restored. It sits on a rocky outcrop on the southeastern shores of Galway.

The Martin clan took over the Castle during its early years (16th Century) until it was sold in the 20th Century (1924) to Irish Senator and Poet, Oliver St. John Gogarty. Dunguaire became a hub for Irish poetry with the brightest lights of the age drawn to County Galway’s stillness and beauty (Shaw, Yeats, Synge, O’Casey all visited). The castle was bought again in 1954 and has undergone considerable renovation, meaning it can be open to the public as an attractive tourist location today.

The Most Instagrammed Irish Castle

It’s believed that Dunguaire Castle is Ireland’s most photographed castle (hard to believe when Bunratty is in the running!). However, it’s position on the rocky outcrop with the gorgeous water in your shot makes this truly Instagrammable!

A view of Dunguaire Castle framed by tree branches.

Insider Tips

  • Photographs – as it is so Instragrammable (or TikTokable!), definitely stay around to take some photographs. There are lots of good angles here – capture Galway Bay in the background and the Galway hills alongside the gorgeous tower. There is a small hill at the outcrop – do climb this and enjoy the view.
  • Tower Climb – if you can, it’s worth climbing the tower. There is a brief historic exhibition that gives you some insight into living there over the time periods discussed above.
  • Banquet – a medieval banquet is held during the summer months. There is usually live music and poetry and, of course, food. If you do want to do this, make sure to book in advance.
  • Thatched cottages – the cottages that you will see after the castle on the left (heading south) would make for a lovely photograph.

Where to Stay near Dunguaire Castle

If you want to stay right at Kinvara to visit the castle, options are relatively limited. You may want to stay in Galway which has most options nearby. Personally, I like the Glenlo Abbey Hotel, although it can get a bit expensive in high season.

Conclusion

A visit to Dunguaire Castle is a bit of a no-brainer for visitors travelling between Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. Make at least a short stop to get a fun picture, or pay the entrance fee to climb the Tower and see inside the castle. Ireland is famous for its medieval architecture and this very accessible castle lets you get up and personal with a slice of history.

Video Link

My trip to Dunguaire Castle is included in this video touring Mayo and Galway:

YouTube player

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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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