(Gort Inse Guaire - river field of King Guaire)
This well laid-out market and heritage town was founded on the
settlements of former chieftains of the area - the 7th century
King of Connacht, King Guaire. His descendants, the O'Shaughnessys,
had a castle that was captured by Ludlow in Cromwellian times and demolished.
Lough Cutra Castle on the shores of Lough Cutra Lake 4 km from Gort
was the ancestral home of the Verekers, later Viscounts Gort who
gained local power in the 17th century wars. The castle is not open
to the public. The area flourished under Vereker patronage and became
the principal market town in South Galway. The charming market weigh-house
(18th century) in the main square has been restored.
The Punchbowl, 1 km south, is a large natural hollow in the underlying limestone basin.
4 km north of Gort along the N18, was the residence of Lady
Augusta Gregory, dramatist and folklorist (1852-1932). Sadly, the house,
frequented by such literary giants as Yeats, G. B. Shaw, Edward Martyn
J.M. Synge, and Sean O'Casey during the 'Celtic Rrevival', has now been
demolished. A famous copper beech tree, the 'Autograph Tree' on the grounds
has carved into it, amongst others, the initials of Augustus John, An
Craoibhín (Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland).
Today the grounds, the Seven Woods of Coole, celebrated in verse by Yeats
are open to the public.
6 km north of Gort on the N18, this 16th century tower house was restored
by the poet, William Butler Yeats, who lived there in the 1920s and
wrote the poems published under title The Tower.
The Yeats Museum was opened in 1965 for the centenary of the poet's
birth. The museum contains an audio-visual theatre, gift and bookshops and a tearoom.
The old Kiltartan schoolhouse off the N18, north of Gort is now a
fascinating theme museum on the life and times of Lady Gregory.
North of Gort on the N18, Tuillira Castle was the home of Edward
Martyn, poet, playwright and patron of the arts. Martyn was
responsible for having many of the Celtic Revival treasures installed
in St. Brenan's Cathedral, Loughrea and planned the founding of an
Irish National Theatre with Yeats and Lady Gregory.
(Fiodh Duin - wood of the fort) Previous
13 km from Corofin on the Gort road, right, just beyond Lough Bunny and over the
Galway border. A well preserved O'Shaughnessy castle.(16th century).