Your guide to Knocknacarra: Fast-growing Galway suburb bordered by woods and sea

But rewind twenty years, and the busy Knocknacarra was mainly green fields and farmland.

Your Neighbourhood is a series of local area guides from TheJournal.ie, presented by KBC. We’re bringing you the best of city neighbourhoods combined with the latest property data. 

ASK ANY LONG-TIME Galway local what they recall about the Knocknacarra of old, and you’ll definitely hear something along the lines of, “I remember when that was all fields…”

Until the late 1980s and early 1990s, the current expanse of estates and retail parks that surround the suburb were green fields and farmland. In fact, it’s thought Knocknacarra’s name, which as Gaeilge is Cnoc na Cathrach, could have come from a large Iron Age fort sitting on a hill overlooking Rusheen Bay.

Located to the west of Galway city, as the centre has grown, so too has Knocknacarra. The completion of the Western Distributor Road brought new life to the area, drawing large retailers like B&Q, Aldi and Dunnes to a once-quiet area of Galway.

Take me there! OK, here you are on Clybaun Road, just past Tom Sheridan’s pub, and heading toward the Western Distributor Road.

So what’s the big draw? Knocknacarra has the convenience of being close to Galway city, with none of the stress of city life. Aside from location though, it also has a wonderful community feel, with a weekly Parkrun at Cappagh Park, and a host of independent shops and cafes who will most definitely make you feel like a local.

What do people love about it? The growing number of facilities, says Laoise Flaherty, PRO of Knocknacarra’s Cardiac First Responder group.

“Knocknacarra is just waking up from a more country feel when I moved here 18 years ago. There were a few local stores and the basics. Now local sports clubs have expanded, Cappagh Park has new pitches and a playground, there are supermarket chains, gyms, a florist, good eateries and pubs.”

The area also has a “young and vibrant” feeling these days, says Laoise, “with a good mix of ages”.

And… what do people NOT love about it? The traffic, no doubt about it. “Traffic in the evening getting home is horrendous, we could do with an outer ring road,” says Padraig Fahy, who has lived in Knocknacarra for 28 years and volunteers at the local weekly Parkrun.

Laoise agrees – and says the mornings are even worse:

It can take over half an hour to travel the guts of a mile so you have to be up and out the door early.

While the area is expanding, there’s still room for more facilities. Laoise mentions a bank and post office as two crucial amenities that are missing, plus “some extra retail space.”

What’s the story with house prices? The average price of a home in Knocknacarra, Co Galway is just over €307,000, according to data from Daft.ie from the first three months of this year. That’s 23% higher than the average asking price across Galway city and county, which is roughly €235,000.

While prices here are cheaper than nearby Salthill – which has an average house price of €344,654 – Knocknacarra is still in the top-five tier of neighbourhoods around Galway city and county in terms of prices, coming in just below Galway city centre. And prices rose in both 2017 and 2016, a trend which looks set to continue.

How long will it take me into Galway? By car, you’ll be in Galway in 15 minutes, and there’s a regular bus service to Eyre Square too, thanks to City Direct’s 410, 411 and 412 routes. They all travel from Cappagh Road to the city centre daily – though the 411 is the most frequent.

You can also be at Shannon Airport in around 75 minutes, or Knock Airport in 90 minutes.

Where should I get lunch? Look into the Seacrest Kafé (yes, that’s how they spell it) on Shangort Rd, which specialises in vegan baked goods as well as coffee – try their vegan version of a sausage roll for size.

Alternatives: For group lunches or evening cocktails, try Capone’s on Kingston Rd, which models itself on a Chicago speakeasy.

And what’s my new local? Tom Sheridan’s is a relatively new addition to the Irish pub landscape, having only opened in 2004. But with three bars across three levels, it’s the best place to go for atmosphere – and a good pint.

Schools and supermarkets? Thanks to the cluster of business parks on the Western Distributor Road on the northside of the suburb, Knocknacarra is well supplied with supermarkets and large retailers. There’s a Dunnes and an Aldi there, plus Joyce’s Supermarket on Shangort Road, and the Clybaun and Cappagh Stores for smaller shops. Lidl has been trying to open in the area for some years – with no success so far.

Schools-wise, there are four primary schools in the area: Knocknacarra Educate Together NS (inter-denominational, mixed), Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh (Catholic, mixed) and St John The Apostle NS (Catholic, mixed) which is due to be extended. There’s also the smaller Galway Steiner NS (inter-denominational, mixed) which is in the process of becoming a Community National School.

There are three secondary schools nearby: Coláiste Na Coiribe (inter-denominational, mixed), St Enda’s (Catholic, mixed) and Salerno Secondary School (Catholic, girls)

Anything else I should check out? On the west side of Knocknacarra, Cappagh Park bleeds into Barna Woods, a 13-hectare area of wooded land where you’ll find walking trails, weekly orienteering events, fun runs and more.

Give me one piece of Knocknacarra trivia to impress a local. Nearby Barna (with which Knocknacarra shares a border in Barna Woods) was commonly used by sailors as a tax-free port. The area was once all known as Freeport, though now it’s just used in reference to one small townland.

Do you live in Knocknacarra? Share your opinion in the comments!

More: Your guide to Salthill – a colourful resort town with all the advantages of city, seaside and craft beer>