Reasons why you should consider a move to Drogheda
Fabulous scenery, terrific amenities, a good transport network, atmospheric pubs, thriving sports clubs and decent restaurants are all good reasons for choosing a place to live, but for the average John or Jane Smith, affordable housing comes first. This is where Drogheda, on the mouth of the mighty Boyne river, scores high.
We will come to all that the Co Louth town and area have to offer, but first, the property prices locally. Using the standard three-bedroom semi-detached home price as a marker, Drogheda compares very well nationally, especially for those finding the Dublin market a bit stiff. But the message is coming in Louth and clear: get in fast.
According to the Real Estate Alliance's recent national survey, the price of an average three-bed semi in Louth rose by 22.36pc in 2014, but, says CEO Philip Farrell: "Kildare, Louth and Meath all offer average housing under the Central Bank's new threshold of €220,000 for those looking to buy in the commuter belt with accessibility to Dublin."
Drogheda, a big town with good transport and amenities, is on the coast, with all that entails in terms of recreation and tourism, and adjacent to Dublin and Dublin Airport, so it compares very favourably with Kildare and Meath.
Darina Collins, owner of REA O'Brien Collins, based in Drogheda, says an average three-bed semi at the high end of the market (essentially anywhere along the old Dublin Road, south of the town), would be between €135,000 and €170,000, with €200,000 at the very high end.
On the other side of town, in the coastal village of Termonfeckin, for example, Collins has a three-bed terraced house on offer for €125,000. Prices on the north of Drogheda, she says, would be 10pc less than southside estates like Grangerath, Roschoill, Five Oaks, and Wheaton Hall. While the local market is strong enough, it is Dublin that drives prices here and Collins describes that market as "very much back".
"We find a lot of people are priced out of Swords, Malahide and the north Dublin towns, and since they're already commuting, why not Drogheda?"
Why not indeed? The town has two major retail parks (the M1 Retail Park and Drogheda Retail Park, on either side of the Boyne), good shopping, access to nice beaches; three championship golf courses in easy reach (Baltray, Seapoint and Laytown & Bettystown), easy rail and road access to Dublin and the airport; a thriving arts and cultural scene; a League of Ireland team to follow in Drogheda United, and more.
While the town was established by the Normans, the area's history goes back thousands of years. The Boyne Valley is a World Heritage Site and has one of Europe's largest and most important megalithic sites. The castle at Trim is the largest remaining Norman castle in Europe and featured in the film Braveheart.
The Battle of the Boyne on July 1, 1690 saw Willam III gain victory over James II and plays a role in Irish politics to this day.
The 2006 Census indicated Drogheda's urban and suburban population was approximately 45,000.
Social amenities: High-lanes Gallery, on Laurence Street, displays works from the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, a formidable collection of art dating back to the 17th century. The gallery works closely with the Droichead Arts Centre, a multi-disciplinary centre, based in Barlow House, which has a theatre, gallery, studios and a community programme. It also houses two theatre companies, the Upstate Theatre Project and the Calipo Theatre and Film Company, as well as a busy Youth Theatre scene. The Little Duke Theatre, on Duke Street, is a stage school for children. The local authority has a dedicated Arts Office which promotes the annual Drogheda Arts Festival (last weekend of April/May Bank Holiday weekend), and an international standard classical and contemporary music programme, principally at St Peter's Church of Ireland.
There's a traditional Irish music scene with pub sessions plus an annual festival (November), the innovative Drogheda Samba Music Festival (July) and a range of choral groups.
Droichead Arts Centre provides rehearsal and jamming space for young bands and other musicians. Drogheda Camera Club has its own premises and studio at Millmount, while literature is catered for by writers' groups and the annual Aimirgin Literary Festival (September). Authors and poets live locally and there is an annual children's festival, Leanbh (November).
The six-screen Arc Cinema opened last year on West Street in the town centre and is reportedly a big success.
Sports clubs include the famous Holy Family Boxing Club and the Lourdes and Duleek boxing clubs; St Mary's and Wolfe Tone GAA clubs; Newtown Blues, Oliver Plunkett's and Sean Tracey's gaelic football teams; Drogheda RFC; the Laytown & Bettystown, County Louth, Baltray and Seapoint championship golf courses; There's Boyne Rovers women's soccer club and Boyne AC. Also note that chess, handball, swimming and other activities are also catered for.
Shopping: All big retail names are represented - Dunnes Stores, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Tesco, Pennys, as well as fashion outlets Next, Wallis, Oasis, Topshop. West Street and Laurence Street, the traditional heart of the town, offer extensive shopping. Two retail centres, Laurence Town Centre and Scotch Hall, are within the town area.
Transport: Bus Eireann has a regular service, Iarnrod Eireann trains go to Belfast, Cork, Limerick and all main cities. Dublin Airport is 40 minutes by bus. Matthews Coach Hire operate to and from Dundalk, Dublin, Bettystown, Laytown, and for students, to UCD Belfield, IFSC and Dublin City Centre.
House prices: At the higher end of the Drogheda market, 23 Colpe Park, is a three-bed semi in Deepforde Estate, located off old Dublin Road south of town, is €199,950. Meantime a house at 15 Park Square, Grangerath is three-bed semi which is just off Dublin Road, but in need of work - it costs €165,000. Cheaper is 11 Wigeon Street, Aston Village which is a three-bed semi for €140,000.