News Irish News

Monday 20 November 2017

Peace and tranquillity versus commuter belt - a tale of two towns

Main Street and The Market Cross in Killarney Photo:Don MacMonagle
Main Street and The Market Cross in Killarney Photo:Don MacMonagle

Anne Lucey and Sorcha O'Connor

The peaceful lakes of Killarney have attracted silver-haired ex-pats and out-of-towners looking to make the most of their retirement years, while young families with commuting demands have settled in Balbriggan.

Census figures released yesterday deemed Balbriggan, Co Dublin, the youngest town in Ireland, and Killarney, Co Kerry, the oldest.

Balbriggan resident Camilla Cruise Photo: Arthur Carron
Balbriggan resident Camilla Cruise Photo: Arthur Carron

"People stick around longer in Killarney because there is more to stick around for," local councillor Donal Grady said.

The picturesque town has the oldest age profile in the country.

Locals believe this is due to the pace of life, the year round events on offer, the accessibility and the scenery.

On top of this, many people return to their hometown after years living and working in busy city centres.

Balbriggan resident Stephen Quinlan Photo: Arthur Carron
Balbriggan resident Stephen Quinlan Photo: Arthur Carron

"Killarney is very attractive for retirees. This has always been the case. And in the last 12 months we have seen an increase in retired people buying or wanting to buy," auctioneer Michael Coghlan said.

Whether it's walking, going to the cinema, playing a round of golf, or visiting Muckross House, there is constant stream of activities for active older people.

Many of those moving into Killarney seek three-bedroom semi-detached houses within walking distance of the town.

These are the same properties sought by first-time buyers, leading to a limited housing stock.

Balbriggan resident Aisling Callan Photo: Arthur Carron
Balbriggan resident Aisling Callan Photo: Arthur Carron

"The people who are putting pressure on house prices are retired people and they are competing with each other and with first-time buyers," Mr Coghlan said.

The retired are winning out because they have often accumulated a cash pile after selling family homes, he said.

Dr Gary Stack, a busy GP, has seen a definite change in the profile of his patients in the past 10 years. He is seeing an increase, because of the age profile, on mobility issues, cardiac issues, and especially diabetes.

Meanwhile, in the coastal town of Balbriggan, the population has an average age of 30.8. Residents in Balbriggan say proximity to sandy beaches and great transport routes attracted them to the area.

Killarney auctioneer Michael Coghlan
Killarney auctioneer Michael Coghlan

"I love the beach, it's only five minutes away from my house so I go as often as I can during summer time," said mum-of-two Camilla Cruise.

"It's also so accessible to the airport and you can hop on the train to town. You have the best of both worlds."

Stephen Quinlan (21) said he was surprised that it was the youngest town in Ireland but with new schools in the area there was a noticeably young population.

"It's a close-knit community. People tend to know each other when they walk up the street," he said.

However, Aisling Callan (21) feels more should be done for its young population. "There could be a few more youth clubs set up," she said.

Killarney Cllr Donal Grady Photo: Don MacMonagle
Killarney Cllr Donal Grady Photo: Don MacMonagle

Local independent councillor Tony Murphy said it was a great place for younger people to "get on the first rung of the property ladder".

He also expressed great pride for "one of the best parks in Ireland", Ardgillan.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News