Top reasons why you should consider a move to Rathgar
Published 16/10/2015 | 02:30
One of Dublin's most desirable suburbs, Rathgar is also home to one of its priciest addresses.
'There are quite decent suburbs, I am sure,
O Rathmines is not so bad, or Terenure,
O we've heard of spots like Inchicore,
But really don't know where they are;
For, thank heavens, we are living in Rathgar.'
Taken from 'Thank Heavens We Are Living In Rathgar', written by Harry O'Donovan and sung by Jimmy O'Dea
Catch the YouTube clip of this delightful 1930s ditty in full, and you will note a dead pan "we are not amused" mock upper-crust delivery that's far from Darby O'Gill - O'Dea's most famous cinema role.
For even then, this leafy southside suburb of Dublin was one of the city's most desirable addresses, and just as surely a target for societal snipers.
Property supplement aficionados will have noted the €3.2 million price being asked for all 5,167 sq ft of the detached mansion that is 52 Orwell Road.
A nice Victorian pile on Kenilworth Square, or on Orwell Road, or Highfield Road, will certainly set you back well over a million and possibly even two. Mid-range, maybe a more modern but still large domicile on Coulson Avenue, will still cost you anything from €600,000 to €800,000.
That's Rathgar for you, from the Irish Rath Garbh, or "rough ringfort", about 3km south of the city centre. The name has been in use since the 13th century and described the area bounded by the river Dodder to the south and to the north by the river Swan.
The village remained a rural idyll into the early 19th century when much of the land was under cultivation and used by market gardeners and dairymen to graze their cattle.
Rathgar's urbanisation actually came on the coat-tails of neighbouring Rathmines, with the creation of the Rathmines Urban Township in 1847.
It attracted Dublin's Anglo middle classes who were fleeing the poverty-infested city centre and who sought a safe and healthy rural environment to set up homes that were still close enough to the city to commute by foot or carriage. It was also a tax haven of sorts, where local taxes were set deliberately low by the upper crust influx.
Highfield Road was laid out in 1753, and this made the development of Rathgar, as we know it today, possible. Zion Church and Christ Church were built in the 1860s, by which time Rathgar was a sizeable community.
The housing stock largely comprises Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian era dwellings with a handful of post war homes and modern back lane mews dwellings.
Rathgar is a pleasant residential area, with Rathgar Road, its main artery, leading to the village centre. It is bordered to the north by Rathmines, to the south by the Dodder, to the west by Harold's Cross Road, and to the east by Upper Rathmines Road.
Despite the area being largely residential and so close to the city centre, it has still managed to retain its village atmosphere, with the likes of the award-winning Rathgar Book Shop and the well known Gourmet Shop, offering cosy familiarity and atmospheric intimacy.
The village cosiness is reinforced by a stroll down Rathgar Road, with its two wine shops, O'Brien's and the Vintry, and two family butchers, Donovan's and Byrne's.
Of the Gourmet Shop, which attracts foodies from far and near, writer Helen Rock noted: "Where else in Dublin can you buy a single nutmeg or cinnamon stick, while shopping for eggs, marmalade oranges, home-made coleslaw, a perfect Wicklow cheese, a six-pack of refreshing Liomanata, a bottle of best malt or Blandy's Madeira . . . ?"
Thank heavens indeed.
Social/amenities: Rathgar Tennis and Bowling Club is on Herzog Park, off Orwell Road, and it has 10 all-weather floodlit courts, a new practice wall and clubhouse. There is an extensive junior coaching programme and new members are welcome.
Rathgar Hockey Club is a mixed club based in the grounds of the High School, and plays on sand-based Astroturf. Four women's teams are fielded, as well as three men's teams. The women's teams are full but they are still looking for goalies.
If it is your vocal chords you would rather exercise, the Rathgar and Rathmines Musical Society is well into rehearsals for its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, to be staged in the National Concert Hall from November 10-14.
Foodies are spoiled for choice in Rathgar, with everything from quality takeaways like Thai establishment Kanum to restaurants such as Howards Way. Indian restaurant Mehek, run by husband and wife, Raj and Aman, has attracted quite a following since opening in 2012.
Established favourites like the Butler's Pantry branch on Rathgar Road and Beckett and Bull, on Rathgar Avenue, continue to do well. The Butler's Pantry also holds regular demonstrations in the Miele Gallery, CityWest, under head chef Niall Hill.
Comans pub is an institution in these here parts, and you will find everyone there from business people to students in its various distinct areas and heated smoking section. Meantime, the Rathgar, once known as the 108 because of its number on Rathgar Road, has been completely refurbished without losing any of its charm.
Transport: Numerous Dublin Buses serve Rathgar, including 14, 15s, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 49 and 83.
Schools: One of the main schools is the co-educational High School (primary and secondary), which moved to its Zion Road location from Harcourt Street in 1971. Stratford College is on the same road.
There's also Rathgar National School, with 95 pupils and of Methodist patronage; St Peter's Special School, Orwell Road, and St Michael's House Special School, on Grosvenor Road.
Property: According to Susan Turley, of Turley Property Advisors, the market has been quite giddy recently, after a slow enough summer.
While acknowledging the 1.6% fall in prices announced by Daft.ie for Dublin, including D6, in year on year terms, she predicts a 10% increase in prices by the year's end here.
Bushy Park, Orwell Road, and Kenilworth and Brighton Squares would be at the higher end, with prices of over €1m common enough for a large home.
Properties on Highfield Road or Coulson Avenue would fetch anything from €600k to €800k; a 2-bed bungalow on Highfield Grove was asking €365k, and a two-bed apartment on Terenure Road East was recently looking for €325k.
Turley has the imposing 52 Orwell Park mansion for €3.2m; Lisney has four-bed semi, 47 Kenilworth Square, at €895k; while Knight Frank has placed 13 Rathgar Villas at €595k.