Wednesday 14 November 2018

Lets move to Douglas: Cork suburb with a village feel has something for all

A look at how this country outpost has transformed from being a backwater into a much desired area for the middle classes

St Luke's Chruch of Ireland has long been a landmark in Douglas
St Luke's Chruch of Ireland has long been a landmark in Douglas
Pedestrians in Douglas
Barry's Bar in Douglas
Douglas offers a variety of housing accommodation, both old and new
€295,000 - Four-bed semi-detached home in Douglas
For sale for €2.75m - Ellerslie in Douglas

Katy McGuinness

Located two miles south of Cork city centre, the suburb of Douglas has a population of more than 20,000. But locals say that, despite its size, it has a village feel. Along with Blackrock, Douglas is where Cork's aspirational professionals most want to live; it is definitively upper middle-class.

The name Douglas derives from Dubhglas - meaning a dark stream. It still flows through the village and is a tributary of the River Lee, on which Cork City is built. The town has flooded in the past, badly in 2012, causing damage to local homes and businesses.

Douglas began to develop as an urban settlement in the 18th century, with the opening of the Donnybrook Mills in 1726. Further mills were opened in the 19th century, but most ceased to operate in the early 20th century, although the Donnybrook Mills and St. Patrick's Woollen Mills continued until the late 1970s. Nowadays, they house small businesses.

In the later part of the 18th and the 19th century, a number of 'big houses' were built in the area, homes for Cork City's merchant princes. These included Donnybrook House, Castletreasure House, Grange House, Maryborough House (now the luxury Maryborough Hotel and Spa), Douglas Hall and Mount Vernon, which had one of the earliest examples of a domestic central-heating system in Ireland.

Housing estates were developed in Grange, Donnybrook, Frankfield, Maryborough, Rochestown, Mount Oval and along the two main roads connecting Douglas to Cork, in the second half of the last century. Most were private, but there are some areas of social housing.

Social: The best-known pub in Douglas is The Briar Rose, known locally as The Briar. This is where local rugby fans - and everybody in Douglas is a rugby fan - go to watch Munster matches when they don't have a ticket for the game.

Restaurant-wise, Douglas offers plenty of options. Two of the most popular are Eco and Barry's, which are next door to one another. KC & Son & Sons [sic] gets the thumbs up from the McKenna Guides, and chef Anita Thoma of Il Primo is a fan of their potato pies. Douglas also has a McDonald's.

Tourism and amenities: Cork is all about sailing, and Douglas is within easy reach of the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, the centre of the universe for yachties.

Douglas RFC, founded in 1902, was one of the earliest Cork Rugby clubs and is well-supported by the locals.

Douglas has two golf courses - Douglas Golf Club at Maryborough Hill and Frankfield Golf Club, where there is also a range. There's also a pitch and putt club, and GAA clubs in the area include the Douglas GAA and Nemo Rangers hurling and football clubs. Nemo Rangers were historically associated with Turners Cross, but moved to a new location in the Trabeg area of Douglas in the 1990s.

Local soccer clubs include Tramore Athletic FC, Grangevale AFC, College Corinthians AFC and Douglas Hall AFC. Other sports clubs in the area include Douglas Tennis Club, Fr. Mathews Basketball Club and Douglas Gymnastics Club. Douglas Community Park runs parallel to East and West Douglas Villages, takes up a five-acre area between the two villages and is a fine local amenity.

Douglas is well-placed for access to the holiday towns and villages of the Cork coastline, including Kinsale, Schull, Baltimore and Skibbereen. Ballymaloe is half an hour away, and there are terrific restaurants, cafes and artisan food producers close by.

Shopping: The East and West Villages of Douglas are home to numerous shops, supermarkets, pubs, boutiques, restaurants, and a five-screen cinema. Douglas has two shopping centres - the Douglas Court Shopping Centre in the East Village area, where the anchor tenant is Dunnes Stores, and the Douglas Village Shopping Centre, which spans between the east and west villages, and has branches of Tesco and Marks & Spencer. There's a weekly farmers' market on Saturday, with over 40 stalls selling local produce. In Cork City, the English Market is open all week and an excellent resource for foodies.

Transport: Douglas was served by a tram route from 1898 until 1932. These days, it is linked to the city by bus, but there is no train service - the nearest station is Cork Kent. Nothing annoys Cork's southsiders quite so much as traffic, and congestion is legendary. Houses within walking distance of schools are in demand; neither the school run or commute is fun.

The Douglas Land Use and Transportation Strategy has been prepared by the council. It aims to secure "a vibrant urban centre with a more efficient transport network that provides an improved public realm, reduces congestion, encourages walking and cycling, and improves the quality of life".

Schools: There are plenty of schools, eight national schools and five secondary schools, the best known of which are Rochestown College for boys and Regina Mundi for girls.

House prices: Prices in the south suburbs of Cork city increased by almost 10% in the year to January 2015, but the increase is not expected to be as large in the year ahead. Several new developments are due to come on stream this year, including one on the old Nemo Rangers' grounds on the Douglas Road, boosting the supply of new homes in the area.

At the lower end you can buy a a restored mill-worker's cottage on the South Douglas Rd for €125,000.

For investors, singles, and those trading down there are new two-bedroom apartment son Maryborough Hill priced at €285,000.

Up a few rungs, a four-bed semi in Frankfield costs around €295,000 through ERA Downey McCarthy. At the top end of the market, Ellerslie, a six-bed detached house on Douglas's Well Rd. built in 1905 and standing on a 0.7 acre of garden, is for sale by Savills for €2.75m and comes with its own gym and sauna.

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