Doonagore Castle:  A Funny Name - And an Important Purpose!

Head to the Western shores of Ireland to find Doonagore Castle, which is a truly iconic landmark in County Clare within the Province of Munster. Unsurprisingly, since it served as a navigational pier, the castle is just on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Doonagore Castle


If you're heading there straight from Dublin Airport, set aside about three hours and take the M7 to Limerick before turning north and following the N18 to Doonagore.  

Things to Know About Doonagore Castle

Here are some fun facts about this amazing Irish landmark.  Hopefully they will entice you to pay a visit in person!

But if that is not possible, you can always use them to impress your friends with your knowledge of one of the most-visited attractions in Ireland.

  • Just above the town of Doolin in County Clare is Doonagore Castle. When it was built in the 16th century, its primary purpose was as a navigational aid for boats arriving at the Doolin Pier.
  • To achieve this aim, the castle had one tall tower as well as an enclosure surrounding the property.
  • While the castle has traded hands several times over the past 400 years, it has been a private residence since the 1970s, when it received a major refurbishment by the current owner.
  • The name of Doonagore Castle comes from the Irish phrase Dún na Gabhair. That translates into English as the fort of the rounded hills.
  • The Castle sits on a site that has long been home to important structures. A ringfort was likely there for centuries before an early castle was erected in the 14th century. The current version standing today was built in the 16th century.
  • While most castles of the period were build with limestone, Doonagore is unique. It was constructed with sandstone, most of which was brought from Flaggy Beach just a mile away.
  • In 1588, a Spanish Armada was in a wreck right below the castle. Over 170 of its survivors were captured by local police and hanged at the Castle.
  • After the Irish Rebellion in the 17th century, the English took control of the castle. Specifically, it was given to John Sarsfield as part of the larger Cromwellian Settlement. 
  • By 1837, after changing hands again, the castle was in bad shape. The Irish Famine, and the general economy of Ireland during the 19th century, meant that many similar castles were abandoned. 
  • In the 1970s, an architect named Percy Leclerc oversaw a completed restoration of the castle. The new owner, John C. Gorman, is an Irish-American who still vacations in the castle with his family to this day.
  • While the castle isn't open to the public, you can admire it from the exterior. It is a cylindrical tower house with a number of decorative features carved from limestone.
  • Doonagore Castle is an especially photogenic structure. Head to Doolin Pier or the point overlooking the castle for great photos.

You can find more information on this lovely Irish castle here.

Want More Irish Castles?

It is probably obvious - at Irish Expressions, we love Irish castles!  The Emerald Isle is dotted with hundreds of these incredible structures.  

Sharing pictures and stories about them gives us a deeper sense of connection with Ireland, wherever in the world we happen to be!

We have captured the most amazing pictures and descriptions of Irish castles in an e-book we call "An Illustrated Guide to Irish Castles and Abbeys."

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That Was Fun!  Where Can I Learn More?

Great question! As you can see, exploring the castles of Ireland offers many opportunities for enjoying an Irish experience and expressing your personal Irish side!

For more information of this kind, you might pay a visit to our section on Ireland Sightseeing here!

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Bruce Grady

www.irish-expressions.com

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