Wednesday 7 December 2016

Top reasons why you should consider a move to Chapelizod

Exploring property prices, amenities and Gothic ghost stories in Sheridan Le Fanu's real.m

Enda Sheppard

Published 26/06/2015 | 02:30

The River Liffey wends its way through Chapelizod. Photos: Bryan Meade
The River Liffey wends its way through Chapelizod. Photos: Bryan Meade
Chapelizod sign
A community garden, flanked by the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary chapel
The pedestrian bridge over the Liffey in Chapelizod
For sale: A two-bed semi at 508 Lucan Road, €249,950
For sale: Chapel Hill, a two-bed duplex for €325,000
For sale: A three-bed terrace house at 34 Glenaulin, €285,000
Chapelizod street
Modern apartments have sprung up in Chapelizod
Scenic: Overlooking the Liffey

"The village lies in the lap of the rich and wooded valley of the Liffey, and is overlooked by the high grounds of the beautiful Phoenix Park on the one side, and by the ridge of the Palmerstown hills on the other."

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Thus was Chapelizod described in 1851 by the renowned Gothic horror writer, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, former resident of the old village, in the introduction to his collection, Ghost Stories of Chapelizod.

Located astride the Liffey, approximately 67km due west of Dublin city centre, and with the postal district number 20, Chapelizod is one of just two northside addresses to have an even postcode (the Phoenix Park is Dublin 8).

The streets Le Fanu would have known and roamed have remained largely unchanged, and the same landmarks are still etched against its skyline. Most prominent of these are St Laurence's Church of Ireland, with its medieval tower and housing clustered around it, and the imposing Catholic Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary church, prominently positioned at the eastern entrance to the village.

The Liffey follows a serpentine route between the sloping hills which rise steeply in the vicinity of the village.

With the mature trees along its banks and the woodlands on the higher ground of the Phoenix Park, the area around Chapelizod is among the city's most scenic.

For sale: A two-bed semi at 508 Lucan Road, €249,950
For sale: A two-bed semi at 508 Lucan Road, €249,950
The River Liffey wends its way through Chapelizod. Photos: Bryan Meade
Chapelizod sign
A community garden, flanked by the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary chapel
The pedestrian bridge over the Liffey in Chapelizod
For sale: Chapel Hill, a two-bed duplex for €325,000
For sale: A three-bed terrace house at 34 Glenaulin, €285,000
Chapelizod street
Modern apartments have sprung up in Chapelizod
Scenic: Overlooking the Liffey

Chapelizod is also full of character, especially the seemingly gravity-defying gardens that slope spectacularly down to the Liffey, adjacent to the Anna Livia Bridge in the heart of the village.

Chapelizod also manages to pull off the difficult feat of blending period dwellings and contemporary apartment blocks, many of which shot up here during the property boom.

Human habitation can be traced to a cromlech, known as the Knockmaree Dolmen, at the top of Knockmaree Hill, to the north west of the town. Locals claim it predates the pyramids of Egypt by 500 years.

If old ghosts do meet in Chapelizod, as Le Fanu would have it, what interesting get-togethers they must be. Especially if they allow figures of legend to swell their ranks.

The village is associated with Iseult, daughter of King Anguisshe, the King of Ireland who flourished in the days of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. She is a main character in the opera Tristan und Isolde, by Richard Wagner.

Chapelizod in Irish is Séipéal Iseult, or Iseult's Chapel, located near the village centre, on Mill Lane, and said to mark the place where Tristan asked for her hand in marriage.

Another denizen sure to make a spectre of himself would be James Joyce. He loved the area so much he set his epic Finnegans Wake in the environs of Chapelizod, the Phoenix Park and Strawberry Beds. The village is also the setting of his short story, A Painful Case, in Dubliners.

Another famous son of the village is Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865-1922), the Rupert Murdoch of his day in Britain. He would become the influential owner of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. His ancestral home, Sunnybank, went up for sale recently and ancestor, Lord Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and Harmsworth's great-great-grandnephew, bought it for posterity.

The pedestrian bridge over the Liffey in Chapelizod
The pedestrian bridge over the Liffey in Chapelizod
The River Liffey wends its way through Chapelizod. Photos: Bryan Meade
Chapelizod sign
A community garden, flanked by the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary chapel
For sale: A two-bed semi at 508 Lucan Road, €249,950
For sale: Chapel Hill, a two-bed duplex for €325,000
For sale: A three-bed terrace house at 34 Glenaulin, €285,000
Chapelizod street
Modern apartments have sprung up in Chapelizod
Scenic: Overlooking the Liffey

The centre of Chapelizod is in a wedge shape though, curiously, known as The Square, lined with tall 18th and later 19th and 20th century buildings and terraced streets and laneways. This was pedestrianised in 2009.

The south side of the Square, which once housed the distillery where Joyce's father was secretary, as well as mills which worked off the river, has been redeveloped for apartment complexes, The Weir and The Island.

The western end of the Square is Mulberry Terrace, named for the grove of trees which fed the silkworms used in the cloth-making process set up here in the 1800s.

In the early 2000s, The Chapelizod Old Village Association (COVA) worked hard to retain the building now known as Tristan & Isolde House, and the adjoining Bandroom building, now fully restored, and rendered in the original lime putty plaster. The Bandroom is now the centre of community activity in the area.

COVA, active for over 20 years, has played a huge part in fostering the strong community spirit that is a feature of life in Chapelizod. Many of its members would also be active on the Tidy Towns front - the village won the Urban Village section in 2010 - and also find time to bring out their CHAT (Culture, Heritage, Activities & Traditions) community information magazine four times a year.

The local heritage society has also published Volume 1 of a history of the area, entitled Adsiltia.

COVA and friends have been up to their eyes recently, putting the finishing touches to the programme of events for the annual Chapelizod Community Festival, which runs this year from June 28 to July 4.

The village is bordered to the west by Palmerstown, to the north-west by the Strawberry Beds, to the south by part of Ballyfermot and the main western thoroughfare out of Dublin city, the N4 road, and to the north by the Phoenix Park.

Social/Amenities: As well as rowing and angling on the Liffey, there is St Patrick's GAA club based in nearby Palmerstown, which serves Chapelizod also. The club won the Dublin Intermediate Football Championship in 2009 and gained promotion to the county's Senior Football Championship. It won the 2013 Dublin AHL Division 2 and promotion to the Dublin Senior Hurling League.

The area has no major restaurant apart from Wright's Anglers Rest in the Strawberry Beds. Its signature dish is a black pudding starter, but it also does a good fish pie, and there's live trad music every night.

The Villager pub is a classic local bar in the heart of the village, which also has live trad music, every Wednesday night. The younger set hang out upstairs, and the main bar is for for the older folks.

Transport: There's a regular Dublin Bus service and also the 66N Nitelink.

Schools: St Patrick's National School is in the middle of the village, and St Laurence's Primary School is located on Martin's Row.

There's also Mount Sackville and Saint Dominic's (in nearby Ballyfermot) secondary schools.

Shopping: The huge Liffey Valley shopping centre is just up the road and, closer still, are the Lidl and Tesco in Ballyfermot.

Property: According to Roger Berkeley of Berkeley and Associates, the market has been busy, albeit not as hot as before Christmas. "Everything we have has been selling. There's always a demand in Chapelizod."

A one-bed starter apartment currently sells for €120,000 plus, while a two-bed would go for a little over €200k.

The higher end of the market would be Glenaulin Park or Belgrove, where a three- bed semi would normally fetch over €480,000, depending on condition, while upmarket homes in the beautiful Strawberry beds would achieve considerably more.

Ray Cooke has put 508 Lucan Road, a two-bed semi, on the market at €249,950; Berkeley is looking for €285k for 34 Glenaulin, a three-bed terraced house; €325k is the asking price for DNG's two-bed duplex apartment at Chapel Hill.

Chapelizod area CV

Commendable

Close to the city, Phoenix Park and Dublin Zoo

Donore Harriers Athletic Club on the banks of the Liffey, augmented by 300m all-weather training track beside Liffey Valley Park

The New Row community garden

Regrettable

No good restaurants, except the Angler's Rest in the Strawberry Beds

Some unsightly derelict buildings

Not well promoted: 2014 Tidy Towns report noted need for a map including heritage trails in the Square

• Next week: Let's Move To...Courtown

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