Kinvara, Ireland is an easy day trip from Galway on the west coast. Galway is a beautiful town, but there were two minor negatives about our time there: 1) some sort of bacteria had gotten into the water, so all the water had to be boiled before it was used, which we were kind of surprised to encounter in Ireland; and 2) due to other constraints on our trip, we ended up only having two half days there. All of the bus trips to the Cliffs of Moher, the key tourist attraction in the area, required a full day. What to do?
Once again, we looked at a map, bus times, and brochures, and picked a place. We ended up in Kinvara. One of its draws was its castle. The bus dropped us off right in front, it was beautiful!
I didn’t bother to write down the castle’s name at the time, but Wikipedia tells me this is called Dungaire Castle. A short distance away you can see ruins of the “old” castle – from what I remember those ruins date back to the 6th or 7th century.
As an American I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed at what counts as old and new in Europe. The same sort of thing came up when I first moved to Edinburgh, where the New Town was built in the 18th century, when my country was still a colony.
So we started to walk up to the castle for our much-anticipated tour…only to be met with a sign saying it was closed for a private event. (When do I get to hold parties in a castle? I’m obviously missing out here). So, since the bus only came a couple of times a day, we were left to spend the next four hours or so in Kinvara with no castle to entertain us. On the bright side, we picnicked behind the castle, and this was our view.
Not too shabby, huh?
After we ate, we decided to have a look around the town. There were a couple lovely art studios along the harbor, but all of it was a little out of my price range. The town itself was not very extensive, but it was charming with its brightly painted buildings.
That still didn’t kill the four hours. We wandered along the road that ran from the castle to the town, occasionally having to jump out of the way of cars as there was no measurable shoulder to walk along. We passed the school, which was an impressive building up a hill.
Farther out from town, we came across another set of intriguing ruins. The building was fenced off, so we, er, definitely didn’t climb over it to peep inside. There’s something haunting about ruined buildings, especially when they’re in settings like this beside the sea and nature has begun to take over. You think about what people did here, and how it ended up so forgotten…and it’s still achingly beautiful. This building wasn’t completely forgotten, though. There was an information sign in the town, and from what we gathered this was the old hospital mentioned.
We arrived back at the Galway bus station just in time to run to catch our bus back to Dublin. Looking back, I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see the Cliffs of Moher, but Kinvara was lovely and when you’re traveling it’s always nice to visit small towns and get away from the droves of tourists for a little while. Maybe one day I’ll go back and finally get to tour Dungaire Castle!