Top reasons why you should consider a move to Naas
Locally, it's called "the black ball" or the "big ball," but those cheeky Dubs who are known for irreverent rechristenings of the capital's public sculptures have been heard to refer to it as the "Bolgonese" (Ball of Naas).
In any case, most Irish motorists will be familiar with the nine-metre high tarmacadam-surfaced and arrow patterned giant "football", to be found parked at the turn off for Naas, on the M7 motorway.
The public art piece - and, by now, iconic landmark - is both a joint and a Joynt venture, being a collaboration between sculptors Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw, and is called "Perpetual Motion".
Situated in a large green area surrounded by roads, it reflects the busy motorways and bypasses that have come to define modern Ireland, but it also captures something of where Naas, the bustling administrative capital of Kildare, is at.
The seat of the kings of Leinster, all roads once led to Nás na Riogh, the Irish origin of Naas. St Patrick performed baptisms here, it was fortified by the Normans and plundered by the Bruces, Robert and Edward. A Norman castle, once part of the town's fortifications, has been converted into the modern Church of Ireland rectory. So it has history.
But Naas has also never stood still and is strategically well placed to meet the future. Near Dublin city and now an important transport hub, linking all points south to the capital city, it has a young, well-educated population and is today one of the most important commuter towns in the greater Dublin area.
According to Kildare Co Council's report, 'Competing in a Globalised World', 28 per cent of Kildare's population has a third level qualification. With NUI Maynooth, the Institute of Technology Carlow and numerous third level Dublin institutions on their doorstep, employers in Naas and beyond have an array of top talent and potential on tap.
The Naas-Newbridge-Kilcullen triangle has also been identified as a primary growth centre in the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). Over the last decade, Kildare has witnessed a population increase of 37 per cent, and rising. Statistics highlight that the county is a top choice for young families putting down roots outside of Dublin.
Naas is a busy market town, dotted with business parks and industrial estates, and there's all the signs of affluence in the form of numerous restaurants, pubs, sports clubs and all the amenities and services that denote vibrancy and life.
Three national routes - the M4, M7 and M9 - run through Kildare. There are rail links to the north west and west of Ireland via Maynooth, and the south and south West via Naas, Newbridge and Kildare. Sallins rail station, just 4km from Naas, serves Dublin city.
The town's economic life has also received a huge boost recently, with news that the Kerry Group is setting up its €136m research and development division there, employing nearly 1,000 mainly highly skilled people, in the blue chip Millennium Park business park.
For all its modern industrial and retail bustle, Naas hasn't forgotten its past, and the well maintained trio of anchor landmark historic buildings include St David's Church, an oasis of tranquility 100 yards from the busy main street; Naas Courthouse with its distinctive four columned portico, and the Town Hall, at the centre of civic life in Naas for over 150 years.
Then there is the gorgeous harbour area off the Grand Canal, and its languid waterways, once itself the main route of commerce and now opening up new income streams from barge tours, while also popular with walkers, cyclists, canoeists and anglers. There's also the gardens at the Oldtown Demesne to peruse.
The sport of kings has always been big in the Kildare area, of course, and the horsey set are well served, with Punchestown, The Curragh and Naas racecourses nearby.
GAA is big, too, with the Naas, Two Mile House and Eadestown GAA clubs thriving, and Naas United catering for a large number of youngsters. Golfers have Palmerstown House, Naas, Craddockstown and numerous adjacent courses to choose from. And the K Club and Carton House aren't far away either. Motoring enthusiasts have Mondello Park just 10 minutes' drive away.
Social/amenities: Naas's approximately 16,000 inhabitants, and many visitors, are well served for restaurants and pubs. Food critic Georgina Campbell awarded the local Las Rada wine and tapas bar "10/10 for atmosphere. It's just lovely", she cooed, while Bouchon, on South Main Street, offers "Reasonably priced food, great choice of menu, well presented food, which tasted beautiful". And after dinner, you can pop downstairs for a range of craft beers at Kavanagh's pub.
The Brown Bear, in Two Mile House, just outside the town, was recommended by Michelin in 2012, but the Naas eaterie which consistently gets the best reviews is Vie de Chateaux in the harbour area.
Besides Kavanagh's, the best known pubs are Hayden's, with a frontage that dates from 1850, and the old style Thomas Fletchers, a good spot for a quiet, convivial pint, free of TV sets and music.
Naas publicans run a tight ship. Local legend has it that Ronnie Wood, of Rolling Stones fame, couldn't get no satisfaction when he tried to strum a few tunes in a town hostelry one night.
"I don't care if he is Red Hurley himself, he's not playing any music here," snarled the proprietor. Allegedly.
Transport: A Bus Eireann service (Route 126) is available to Naas town, departing from BusAras in Dublin. Naas Racecourse is only a short walk from the bus stop. A train service is available from Heuston Station, Dublin to Sallins. A feeder bus is available from Sallins to Naas (check timetable). A taxi service is in operation from Sallins also.
Schools: The list of primary and secondary schools is extensive, and all denominations, and none, are catered for.
Just to show how quickly the local population is growing, Naas Community National School had only six pupils when it opened in 2010, and now has 200.
Property: Property prices are more affordable than those in Dublin, but they're certainly not cheap. An entry level two-bedroom apartment would set you back between €120,000 and €180k, depending on location, age and energy efficiency.
Broadly speaking, a three-bed semi will range from €250k to €350k, again depending on condition and location. The "stockbroker" belts are on the Sallins Road, the Dublin Road and in Two Mile House, where a large detached home will cost over the magic million.
Apartment 24 The Beeches (DNG) is on sale for €220k, while 194 Oldbridge Station, a three-bedroom semi in Osberstown, Naas, is seeking €269k, through CME Auctioneers. The four-bedroom 1 Hillside Drive (Sherry FitzGerald O'Reilly) has an AMV of €420k. The vast Glenbeigh mansion (DNG), on Tipper Road, could be yours for €1.4m or thereabouts.
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