Sunday 4 December 2016

Let's move to... trim

Prices are rising in the historic town of Trim which gets a touch of commuter demand

Enda Sheppard

Published 24/04/2015 | 02:30

Historic buildings flank Trim's main street
Historic buildings flank Trim's main street
Trim shop
Trim river
Houses full of character in Trim
Character-full houses in Trim
Trim Castle
Trim sign declaring its heritage status
Belfry, Athboy Road, Trim - €205,000
A distinctive doorway in Trim
No 18 Nightsbrook in Trim has its own cinema - €340,000

IT would be hard to imagine Jonathan Swift, the Duke of Wellington and former All-Ireland medal-winning Meath full back Darren Fay in the same room - and even more difficult to fathom what they might talk about.

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Perhaps Arthur Wellesley, the genius behind Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, could still learn a thing or two about defensive tactics from Fay, and Swift could tap the towering defender for one of old manager Sean Boylan's herbal remedies for the chronic Menieres disease that afflicted him. But if ever they had met, the common ground is Trim.

Fay is a native of the Co Meath heritage town on the Boyne River, Wellington spent much of his childhood at Dangan Castle, while Swift was vicar in Laracor, just out the road from Trim.

The name Trim comes from the Irish, Átha Troim, or "town at the ford of elder flowers". The town, 45km north-west of Dublin and easily accessible via the M3 and M4, is steeped in history, ancient and modern. It's in the The Boyne Valley, one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe, with the Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.

But still dominating the town that developed around it is Trim Castle, Europe's largest Anglo-Norman castle, built in the 12th century by the Norman Hugh De Lacy and pressed back into service more recently as York to be raucously taken by Mel Gibson in Braveheart, parts of which were filmed here.

From Trim Visitor Centre, book a tour of the castle with a difference, every day from Easter Saturday to the end of October, as members of the Trim Living History Group, who act as guides, will let you feel the heft of a sword, try on a closed helmet and wear chain mail as they also lead you on a walking tour around Medieval Trim.

Surrounding the castle are fascinating ruins of St Patrick's Cathedral, its church and porch revealing a number of medieval graveslabs. St Mary's Abbey is the remains of an Augustinian monastery founded in the 12th century and later a focal point for pilgrimage. The Sheep Gate is the only surviving gateway of the Medieval town, while the Newtown Monuments consist of a large medieval cathedral, two monasteries and small church which date from 1206.

Other items of historical interest include the Yellow Steeple, overlooking the town from a ridge directly opposite Trim Castle and standing over 120 feet tall, so called because of its colour in the evening sunlight.

The surrounding area is dotted with the ruins of the many monasteries built on both banks of the River Boyne at the fjord which gave access to the land for the traders and pilgrims travelling up river from across Europe and further afield.

Very popular with tourists and locals alike is the Boyne river walk, a walkway starting at the castle park and running along the Boyne to Newtown Abbey. The total walk there and back takes about 40 minutes and the scenery and views are quietly spectacular

The town of Trim as we know it today took shape in the 19th century with the construction of Trim Courthouse, St Loman's Catholic church, St Patrick's Anglican church, the Wellington column, the current Bank of Ireland building, and Castle Street by Lord Dunsany, a major landowner.

Following the Great Famine of 1846-1849, agricultural practices changed from tillage to stock raising, resulting in a change in the business life of Trim, which developed as a market town.

Today, Trim is a scenic town which, being less than an hour to Dublin airport, has a degree of commuting to the capital but, without a rail link, it isn't saturated. Nonetheless, recent stats show modern housing is in short supply and, with the price of the semi almost one third what it is in the capital, there is always interest from outside the locality.

Social/Amenities: Known for being spick and span (it's a three times Tidy Towns winner) Trim is currently scrubbing up for another historic event - the Waterloo 200 festival, running from April 30 to May 3, which will include the Drogheda Orchestra Collective performing musical pieces from the time, in St Patrick's Cathedral on Loman Street, and, on May 3, Kevin Myers, of Independent Newspapers fame, will give a talk on the Irish involvement at Waterloo at the Summerhill community centre.

One of the more interesting attractions is the Medieval Trim River Tour, run by James Murray and Dara Llewelyn of Boyne Valley Activities. As well as offering lessons in kayaking, canoeing and archery, and leading out groups for white water rafting, they also take visitors out on the Boyne for a historical tour, letting them take in the local bird life, flora and fauna, while offering insights into where pilgrims settled.

Boyne Valley Activities was awarded the 2013 Best Tourism Small Business Award and the 2014 Eco Tourism Ireland Silver Award.

No doubt hungry and thirsty after all that messing about on the river, the party can carry on to one of the local restaurants or hostelries. Khan Spices, on Emmet Street; The Stockhouse, at Emmett House, Finnegans way; and Franzinis, on French Lane, are popular restaurants, while the best known pubs are the James Griffin (known locally as Lenihans) on High Street, which does trad sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, the old world Macie Regans, beside St Peter's Bridge, and Brogans and the Bounty Bar, both on High Street.

Shopping: There is no Shopping centre, but there is a Supervalu and Lidl with a good range of essential products to keep the average family going.

Transport: Bus Éireann operates two routes serving Trim. Route 111 from Athboy to Dublin operates hourly each way and connections to Granard and Cavan are available at Athboy. Route 190 from Trim to Laytown via Navan and Drogheda operates every two hours each way.

Schools: St Michael's Boys and St Mary's Girls' National Schools in the grounds of St Patrick's Catholic Church; Gaelscoil Na Boinne, on the Dublin Road, a mixed primary school; Boyne Community School, on the Dublin Road, is a mixed secondary school, and there is also Scoil Mhuire girls secondary, on Patrick's Street.

House prices: Rosemary McKeown of Raymond Potterton reports a buoyant market. Demand did cool in the first quarter of 2015 in a lot of areas, but not in Trim, she says, where property prices have increased month on month, because of Trim's heritage town status; its good record in the Tidy Towns, and its easy commuting distance to Dublin and the airport.

The most sought after properties are on the Dublin Road, where your three-bed semi in good nick would cost an average €210,000, with four-beds going for €250,000.

The Belfry, a three-bed semi on Athboy Road, has an offer for €205,000, while 1 Abbey Close in Rochford Manor went for €210,000 in February and the nearby 5 Abbey Close, in need of work, went for €150,000.

In some of the older estates, like Avondale, you will get a three-bed semi for €120,000 to €130,000, or a four-bed requiring modernisation for €165,000.

The demand is there and Sherry Fitzgerald reports a lot of interest in 18 Knightsbrook Park, a five-bedroom detached house with its own cinema, which is on offer for €340,000, and in St Jude's, a 2,928 sq ft bungalow on the Dublin road, has an asking price of €475,000.

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