Photo via Jake Pappas
Kinvara is a small sea port village situated in the south end of County Galway, Ireland. The name comes from the Irish Cinn Mhara, which means “head of the sea.” The village of Kinvara is located at the head of Kinvara Bay, which lies at the south-eastern end of Galway Bay. The village was once a major exporter of corn and seaweed, although the Great Famine of the 1840s and several later emigrations reduced the population of the village to just a few hundred people. However, Kinvara has seen renewed growth since the 1980s.
Most of the original parish of Kinvara is now demolished, including the original Ó hEidhin (O Hynes) towerhouse around which the town was built. The church of St. Caimín, constructed around the early 13th century, still stands and belongs to the School of the West architectural style. Situated in the east of the village is the Dunguaire Castle, one of the principle towerhouses of the Uí Eidhin (O Hynes) clan. 19th-century Gaelic scholar John O’Donovan reports that the Dunguaire Castle was constructed in the early 16th century by either Éamonn Ó hEidhin or Eoghan Mantach Ó hEidhin. The castle was used as a filming location for the 1979 Andrew V, McLagen film North Sea Hijack.
Kinvara is most visited for its two annual festivals, Fleadh na gCuach, or “the cuckoo festival,” which takes place at the beginning of May, and Cruinniú na mBád, or “gathering of the boats,” which takes place in mid August. The Fleadh is held on the new bank holiday weekend, and celebrates the festival of Bealtine, around which time the cuckoo reportedly first cuckoos. The Cruinniú na mBád commemorates the trade that once existed between western County Galway and the northern County Clare through Galway Hookers, the traditional sailing craft and fishing boat of west coast Ireland.