Dunguaire Castle, Burren and Disappearing Lakes

While road tripping around Ireland, my friend and I decided to take a day tour to Dunguaire Castle, the Aillwee Caves and Cliffs of Moher  So much to learn and so much to share, so let’s take this in baby steps! My typically posts don’t normally involve a lot of “boring” history, but I learned so much on this trip I can’t help but tell you all about it! So stick with it, and you might learn some interesting facts too!

 Dunguaire Castle
This is a 16th century tower house on the South-eastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway, Ireland.  The Castle was built by the Hynes clan around 1520.  According to current thinking by archeologists, the original dun was most likely a ring fort, the remains of which can be found on the small promontory just to the northeast of the current castle.

Legend has is that part of the lore about Dunguaire’s Castle is that the Lord of the castle was very generous and he continued this generosity into the afterlife. One example of this is the story about a poor beggar whom King Guaire had often helped in life. The beggar visited the King’s grave and said, “King Guaire, even you cannot help me now.” Undeterred even by death, the King’s skeletal hand dropped several gold coins at the beggar’s feet. According to legend, still to this day, if a person stands at the front gate and asks a question, they will have an answer to their question by the end of the day

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The coolest thing I found out about this Tower was not what was inside, but what was on the outside. Dunguaire Castle is surrounded by what is known as “Disappearing Lakes.” Lakes that are found in limestone areas in the West of Ireland have a tendency to drain away into the ground.  The limestone is cracked and porous and the water simply drains away.  The name, Turlough, in Irish, means dry place.  The lakes are found in the karst landscape, most of which are found in the Burren, County Clare.

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It was fascinating to me that on our way to the Cliffs of Moher, the lake around the Castle looked like this.  6 hours later it was completely covered in water!!!

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Other fun facts I learned on this tour?

Window Tax
This was a property tax based on the number of windows that were in a given house.  It was a significant social, cultural and architectural force during the 18th and 19th centuries. This is also where the said term “Daylight Robbery” was to have started (a tax on light)  To avoid these taxes (and as our tour guide would say “Give the finger to the government”) a lot of Irishmen did these to their houses:

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Cut their front door in half!  It let daylight and fresh air in without being considered an actual window! Clever folk those Irish 🙂

Dry Stone Wall
One of the most mind boggling pieces of architecture I saw throughout Burren was the amount of Dry Stone wall that seemed to cover the area!  Dry Stone is a wall that is constructed from stones without the use of mortar (basically an old school version of glue) to bind them together. The amount of work it must have taken for stone builders to get the exact right stones in the exact right locations and have them stay sturdy enough to make it through any type of weather…that takes skill.

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Fantastic tour through the Galway Tour Company.  No matter what the weather, the tour guides were informative and comical at the same time.  We had a great day!

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