Kinvara Co Galway is the seaside village that offers a gateway to the Burren
Beautiful scenery, an enviable Atlantic location with plenty to do, lots of housing options and access to both Galway city and Co Clare add up to a West of Ireland wonder
Known as the gateway to the Burren, Kinvara can't be beaten on location and has a lot to recommend it as somewhere to raise a family. Illustration: Aoife Dooley
Close to Galway city lies Kinvara, a stunning seaside village with its own 16th-century castle and a whole lot of charm. With a small population of just over 1,500, it's the perfect size to maintain a friendly, village appeal while also growing as more and more people opt to move in.
Marian Hastings is a Kinvara local who has, she confesses, “pretty much always lived here.” Hastings' parents moved to the area in the 1990s, from the UK. “They were looking for a slower pace of life – my mum used to visit Kinvara as a child in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Hastings makes a great case for a relocation to the seaside village, extolling the virtues of its scenery and its community. “I feel so lucky to live here,” she says. “It's one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.”
Aesthetics aside, there's more to Kinvara than meets the eye. “As well as its outrageous good looks, Kinvara has a really varied and vibrant community,” Hastings declares. “There are lots of local clubs and organisations for all kinds of interests: music, art, running, sea swimming … There's a Men's Shed and, for kids, there are a lot more options than there were when I was small: sports clubs, dance lessons, CoderDoJo and Scouts, too.”
Why choose Kinvara?
Known as the gateway to the Burren, it can't be beaten on location and it has a lot to recommend it as somewhere to raise a family, or simply to live a life unencumbered by traffic and the stresses of city living.
There is an array of housing choice, from a three-bedroom semi-detached house, to spacious detached homes with ample gardens and space to grow.
Kinvara also has a strong cultural tradition embedded in its DNA. “It seems to attract really creative people,” Hastings confirms. “There's a wealth of local talent – writers, musicians and artists – and the atmosphere can be phenomenal, especially in the pubs and restaurants.”
How do I get here?
From Galway city, it’s around 40-minute drive to Kinvara, according to Google Maps. Wherever you enter the village from, be sure to drive past Dunguaire Castle on your way – its location right on the village's shoreline makes it one of the most beautiful seascapes in the west. If bus travel is more your style, Bus Eireann's 423 route provides regular transport to and from Galway city.
Live and learn
Primary schools include St Joseph's National School on the Ballyvaughan Road, Northampton National School and Doorus National School, all in the village. In neighbouring Ballinderreen, there is Ballinderreen National School and in the nearby village of Kilcolgan, you'll find Kilcolgan Educate Together National School.
There's a secondary school in Kinvara, too: the co-ed Seamount College and, of course, when it comes to third-level, Galway boasts both NUI Galway and GMIT.
Where's good to live?
“The village is in high demand,” says Hastings, as one might imagine – close to all of the amenities, while also being right on the shoreline and easily accessible from Galway city and Co Clare.
There are an array of popular housing developments in the village itself. Three that come to mind instantly are “Arvough, Nun's Orchard and Bothar na Mias,” she says.
A new development, Thornhill, has just come on stream. Ideally, says Hastings, you want a great location and access to amenities. “Crushoa, where I live, is really beautiful, as is scenic Ballybranagan, but very close to the village as well,” she says. “The hardier types can do a shoreline walk from there all the way around to the village. It's lovely.”
Things to do
A picturesque seaside village guarantees good seafood and gorgeous Instagram-worthy photo backdrops – but what is there to do in Kinvara? Hastings doesn't hesitate.
“The farmers’ market, on a Friday, is really great. Live music, and a great buzz,” she says.
For those with young children, “The Burren Nature Sanctuary is a must.” Hastings even has an itinerary in mind. “Visit on a Saturday, with a pizza from The Tide Full Inn afterwards – they're fantastic.”
Kinvara has a lively calendar of events, with two festivals taking place every year – one of which is the renowned Cruinniú na mBád and, says Hastings, “there's always a sense, especially in the summer, that anything can happen.”
“Everyone knows Kinvara's Dunguaire Castle, but in front of that, there's a small island. You can walk out to the island at low tide, and it's barely visible from the road, but it's really picturesque and gorgeous.”
Time for tea
Try coffee and cake at Graze Café and Wine Bar, “on the quay – they only opened in the summer and they've really friendly service, great cakes and a gorgeous view.” There's another cafe nearby called Siar, which Hastings also recommends.
The village's Merriman Hotel lays claim to one of the largest thatched roofs in the country (and its café comes highly recommended), while Connollys pub, also on the quay, is renowned as having the best pint in the area.
Of course, one of the most beautiful aspects of seaside living is the walks. What better way to take in the scenery and blow off the cobwebs?
“My ideal Sunday would have to include what my friends and I call the holy trinity,” says Hastings. ”A cup of tea, a hug and a walk at the Flaggy Shore. No matter the time of year, your load always seems lighter after that.”
For those considering relocating to Kinvara, Hastings says “You won't regret it. There's a great community here – open-minded and friendly – fantastic scenery, and so much to explore,” she says. “Even the broadband isn't too shabby.”
Making a move
Lorna Blake is Bank of Ireland’s mortgage manager for Co Galway. “Kinvara is a very welcoming village, full of community spirit – and with so many attractions to offer, from Traught Beach to Kinvara Pottery, there's plenty to immerse yourself in.”
Blake says that, “even in these uncertain times, your mortgage journey is still a top priority for us. We'll talk to you about your personalised mortgage plan, we can arrange a meeting via phone, FaceTime or in-branch, adhering to social distancing regulations.”
The lender is Bank of Ireland Mortgages. Lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. Over 18s only. Mortgage approval is subject to assessment of suitability and affordability. A typical mortgage to buy your home of €100,000 over 20 years with 240 monthly instalments costs €615.79 per month at 4.2% variable (Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC) 4.3%). APRC includes €150 valuation fee and mortgage charge of €175 paid to the Property Registration Authority. The total amount you pay is €148,114.60. We require property and life insurance. You mortgage your home to secure the loan. Maximum loan is generally 3.5 times gross annual income and 80% of the property value (90% of the property value for first-time buyers). A 1% interest rate rise would increase monthly repayments by €54.02 per month. The cost of your monthly repayments may increase – if you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home.
WARNING: If you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home.
WARNING: If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future.
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