Dunguaire castle is one of the most visited and photographed castles in the West of Ireland, conveniently located as it is, by the roadside on the way into the picturesque, seaside village of Kinvara. It has had a curious and colourful history, having changed hands many times since it was first built in 1520, as told in the tale of Bothar na Mias. Once upon a time the High King of Connaught, Guaire was feasting with his merry men at the castle. When the hermit Saint Colman, who had been fasting for forty days up in the nearby mountains, called on God to provide him with sustenance. Miraculously, the food was seen to fly from the plates in the castle up through the air to the saint's altar in Carron.
This tradition of feasting continues today with medieval banquets held nightly in the castle throughout the summer, where you can enjoy the same kind of same kind of food, merriment and music. Guests gather in the great hall to be welcomed by costumed hosts/entertainers with a goblet of mead, to the sounds of a twinkling harp. Before being led upstairs, to the banqueting hall with its own canopied stage. The atmosphere is flawless with great jugs of wine set out on the tables and chunky wax candles everywhere, let the feasting begin....
The wonderful and talented hosts introduce each of the four courses, weaving in stories of local tradition and folklore that works seamlessly throughout the night. After the meal, a very entertaining mix of poetry, signing and storytelling is in enacted, the highlight being the awarding of a special souvenir Claddagh ring to someone in the audience. On the night I was there it was newly weds Melissa & Ryan from the USA who were overjoyed. In fact they said the banquet at Dunguaire Castle was the highlight of their entire 2 week honeymoon trip to Ireland.
If you would like to book a banquet for yourself at Dunguaire or any of the other venues hosted by Shannon Heritage, such as Knappogue or Bunratty, please click on the following link.
For information on Dunguaire Castle or to book online click here. 10 Hidden Gems near Dunguaire Castle.....
1 Burren Beo home to the excellent Burren Beo Trust which is a fantastic organisation set up to protect, inform and conserve all aspects of the Burrens, ecology, flora, fauna, farming practices.
2 Greene's Pub one of the original and best in Kinvara with an authentic Irish pub interior and welcome to match.
3 Connolly's Pub across the road on the corner, has a nice fire and free music with friday night jazz and sunday afternoon traditional music sessions.
4 Murphy's Grainstore you can book a seaweed bath or treatment at the thalassotherapy centre or buy the ingredients to do-it-yourself at home.
5 Pier Head Bar & Restaurant on the harbour, great place for sunday lunch or some good pub grub with a view of the boats and Dunguaire castle.
6 The Tide Full Inn very popular local pizzeria, with good lunch specials on the sunny side of the main st in Kinvara.
7 Merriman Inn thatched hotel, very reasonable rates and THE place to be to watch football or rugby on the big screen. (currently closed for renovations till Mar 2013).
8 Farmers/Country Market most saturdays throughout the summer in the square, with more free music!
9 Tully's Pub another very traditional pub that's hopping at the weekends, separately dance floor and outdoor area
10 Turkey Fleadh at Christmas, not sure what it's about really, apart from turkeys (obviously) music and drink!