Sitting on an outcrop jutting into Galway Bay, the 16th-century Dunguaire Castle appears like a fairy-tale vision to drivers traversing the coastal road, prompting many to pull over and reach for a camera. The site housed prominent local clans for centuries before famous Irish surgeon, poet, and playwright Oliver St. John Gogarty bought it in 1924. He then turned it into a hangout for Ireland’s literary elite, including Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, Seán O'Casey, and George Bernard Shaw. Today, most travelers admire the castle from afar, though some do venture inside.
Visitors can explore the castle’s modest interior and climb to the top of the 75-foot (22-meter) tower for daytime views over Galway Bay, or purchase tickets for a twice-nightly medieval banquet, which includes a 4-course candlelit dinner complete with Celtic music, mead, and storytelling. The castle is also seen on guided day tours from Galway and Dublin that typically also visit other area attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and the Aillwee Cave, as well as parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The castle is not wheelchair accessible.
- The roof terrace is small and accessible only via a narrow spiral staircase that may not be suitable for those who may get claustrophobic.
- It’s best to wear comfortable walking shoes suitable for uneven surfaces.
- Banquet experiences must be booked in advance.
How to Get There
Dunguaire Castle is located on the southeastern tip of Galway Bay, about half a mile (900 meters) north of the town of Kinvara. Parking is available across the street. The easiest way to get there is via guided tour, with most departing from central locations in Dublin or Galway, and some included hotel pickup and drop-off.
When to Get There
The castle is open from April to mid-September from 10am to 4pm. Arrive early in the morning to see the castle at its quietest. Medieval banquets take place twice nightly, at 5:30pm and 8:45pm, and last about two hours and 15 minutes.
Tips for Photographing Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire is often touted as the most photographed castle in Ireland. With its fabulous setting on the edge of Galway Bay, it’s not hard to see why so many have pointed their lenses in its direction. To get the perfect shot, check out the Galway Bay tide times in advance and schedule your visit for when the tide is in so you can capture the castle’s reflection in the water below.