Top reasons why you should consider a move to Celbridge
With its growing population, Celbridge is prospering. We toast its success
The recent evolution of the ancient north Kildare town of Celbridge is a good example of what happens when you have a plan - only you don't stick to it.
The result is that some of the more modern aspects of this characterful town are well thought out, while others seem to have happened rather randomly.
The birthplace of Arthur Guinness chugged along for centuries as a country village, and flourished as the milling industry at its centre cannily shifted uses to keep abreast of the changing commercial zeitgeists - from flour to flax, to paper to textiles.
Then, in the 1990s, it became a target destination for Dublin's commuters in search of more affordable family accommodation, and soon north Kildare, along with Celbridge (21 km from the city centre) was more like suburban Dublin than rural anywhere.
By 2006, only 24.4 per cent of the town's then 16,980 population was actually born in County Kildare. The population rose by another 13 per cent over the next five years alone, to the 19,537 quoted in the 2011 census.
Fortunately for Celbridge, most of its housing estates were completed before the bust of 2007 onwards, and homes have been steadily in demand, so it has avoided the ghost estate phenomenon.
Infrastructure has had to keep up with the growing population. Aldi and Lidl have recently joined Tesco, and the new SuperValu shopping centre. New schools were, and still are, being built, and old ones expanded. The town has all the signs of prosperity, especially with the likes of Intel and Hewlett Packard in nearby Leixlip offering plentiful employment.
The same one main street, however, had to deal with the huge rise in traffic, entering and leaving over one charming but narrow bridge. This has been alleviated somewhat by the Junction 6 exit off the M4, allowing access from the west.
Celbridge's current buoyancy and wellbeing represents a reward for the mighty efforts of a vibrant community.
They are out there fundraising for schools (six primary, all green flag), two secondary, plus a new third, Celbridge Community School, to be housed for the moment in Moortown.
Such community spirit helped Celbridge win bronze in the 2013 and 2014 Tidy Towns, and has seen local people man the always busy Mill Community Centre, with its gym and space for indoor sports and activities, including a mental health group and Silver Thread club for senior citizens.
There is also a group of volunteer guides offering excellent free guided tours of the town. And there is much to take in on one of these tours. As mentioned earlier, Arthur Guinness, founder of the Guinness brewery, was born here in 1725 and this is commemorated by a wall plaque and, since 2013, a full sized bronze statue.
Nearby Castletown House was built from 1722 for William Conolly, who was Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Its parklands lead down to a quite spectacular view of the river Liffey at its widest and most imposing. A tour of the house is highly recommended.
From the house, there are views of the remains of St Wolstan's Abbey, founded in 1202.
As you follow the lime-tree lined pathway back towards Castletown Gates, you will see Donaghcumper House and demesne across the river. The present house was remodelled in 1835 in Tudor revival style.
Out the gates, and past the beautiful old stone Church of Ireland Christ Church and the ivy-clad walls of its graveyard, and walking up Main Street, you will soon come across the lovingly-maintained five-bay Kildrought House, built in 1719.
Just across from it, the old Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks now houses Michelangelo's restaurant.
Celbridge Abbey and its tranquil grounds regularly welcomed Jonathan Swift, when it was home to Esther Van Homrigh, the Vanessa he would eventually leave heartbroken.
Also worth noting is the large but elegantly proportioned old stone workhouse on the Maynooth road, that now houses the Colortrend paint factory
Yet another fine sight is the colourful array of canal barges docked at Hazelhatch, 2.8 km from Celbridge on the R405.
Social/amenities: Celbridge GAA club won its first county senior football championship in 2008, and took three county hurling titles in a row, from 2009 to 2011, and struck again in 2013. They were also county senior camogie champions last year. Celbridge Town and Ballyoulster United both play in the Leinster Senior League.
There are several decent pubs to recommend, including the Abbey Lodge, overlooking the Liffey, the Mucky Duck and Village Inn and, for a quieter pint, the quaint Speaker Conolly pub.
Di Mario's is a family-friendly pizza and pasta place.
The Espresso Project on Main Street was named in an Irish Times article listing the top 10 coffee shops in Ireland. Coffee lovers also have the Baobab Cafe where you can watch your coffee being roasted while you enjoy your hot waffle.
Transport: There's a train station outside the town at Hazelhatch, offering Arrow service to Dublin Heuston. Dublin Bus 67 and Bus Eireann 120 services also operate.
Schools: Celbridge has six primary schools, two secondary schools and a residential special school.
Property: According to Philip Byrne of local estate agents REA Coonan, property prices are down maybe 5 per cent on late last year, as the new mortgage borrowing measures start to bite.
However, the Chelmsford Manor development at Ardclough, means a mix of large four-bed detached and three-bed townhouses is available.
"There's plenty of demand," says Byrne, "even if maybe viewings are down."
At the top end, a five-bed detached home in Chelmsford or Temple Manor is around €550,000 mark. Moving down, a four-bed semi in Old Mill, for example, would go for around €380k, and a three-bed there for around €50k less.
A smaller detached home in the older Castletown estate, near the front entrance to Castletown House, would go for around €350k.
A good example of a mid-range development is St Raphael's Manor, where a four-bed semi-detached home would go for €300k, and a three-bed for €260k. The two-bed townhouses there would come in at just shy of €200k. An older, less energy efficient three-bed semi in the likes of Park Grove is around €250k.
REA Coonan has priced 52 Thornhill Meadows at €250k; DNG Celbridge is quoting €335k for 49 Celbridge Abbey; €469,950 is the asking price for 2 The Close, Temple Manor (Team Lorraine Mulligan); while 3 The Avenue, St Wolstan's Abbey (DNG Celbridge) is quoted at €585k.
Celbridge area CV
Maynooth University on your doorstep
Celbridge Elm Hall and The K Club golf clubs are close at hand
A country-town feel, yet close to Dublin City
Located on one of the most important InterCity lines in the country, but they don't stop here
Town centre traffic is often heavy
Poor parking provision on the main street