As the Wild Atlantic Way hugs the coastline, away from the main thoroughfares, you’ll inevitably pass through innumerable, picture-postcard towns and villages, and about 20 miles south of Galway City is one such place – Kinvarra.
Kinvarra is a quaint and colourful fishing village which sits tucked away on an inlet off Galway Bay, boasting an array of fine pubs and restaurants, and plenty of photo opportunities too.
Kinvarra has been described as a small village with a big drinking problem, but is infused by a rich heritage too and the locals celebrate this by hosting two cultural festivals during the year, if you’re lucky enough to time your visit for one of these.
Cruinniú na mBád, or the gathering of the boats, is a salute the traditional Connemara sailing boat, the Galway Hooker. Each year in August, a regatta of Hookers, with their distinct red sails, draws crowds from far and wide to enjoy music and song and a pint of pale ale named in the boat’s honour.
Kinvarra also has a strong association with traditional Irish music and Fleadh na gCuach (the Cuckoo Festival) takes place over the May Bank Holiday and acts as showcase for some of the best traditional Irish musicians in the country. The great American folk musician and composer of Galway Girl, Steve Earle, has even been spotted in Connolly’s pub for one of its renowned sessions.
But even if you’re not visiting Kinvarra during the festivities, Kinvarra is still worth a visit. Apart from being an exceptionally beautiful location, it has a well preserved 16th century castle at one end of the village. Dunguaire Castle, was built as a stronghold in 1520, but is more recently linked to Ireland’s literary revival in the early 20th Century, and offers medieval banquets in the summer evenings, complete with music, song and storytelling.
A number of self-professed “blow-ins” proclaim to have visited Kinvarra on a holiday many years ago but never left, enticed by its charms. Expect a warm welcome if you’re passing that way…
Kinvara, Co. Galway