It was formerly part of the kingdom of the Soghain of Connacht. It is located approximately 30 km from Galway City and 9 km from Athenry. Monivea is known for its sizable forest, Monivea Castle which now lies in partial ruins, and a well-preserved mausoleum. Mausoleum and castle were built by the Ffrench (or ffrench) family, one of the "Tribes of Galway" and landholders since early Norman times, who remained Catholic. The Ffrench family were also responsible for the distinctive layout of the greens in the centre of the village, which were used as drying stations for the linen (known as flax) of local industries.
The forest, mausoleum and castle were left to the State by the last ffrench, and the forest is now held by Coillte (formerly the Irish Forestry Commission).
There are two small grocery shops, a petrol station, four pubs, a Garda station, a post office, a church in Ryehill, and Monivea National School. The Monivea Village Market is held every Saturday in Cooke's Yard from 10am until 3pm