WHEN we think of the two famous Brians who are associated with the northside Dublin suburb of Clontarf, it's worth considering that one was the ultimate southsider, who spent very little time there. The other was born and bred there, but also made his name south of the river.
The epic Battle of Clontarf, in 1014, remains shrouded in myth, legend and interpretation, but, as far as we can gather, on Good Friday that year, Brian Boru, from Kincora in County Clare, and the last great High King of Ireland, led his force of 4,000 Munster men, 1,400 Dalcassians (from the Kingdom of Thomond, also in Munster), and 1,500 Connacht clansmen into battle with the 6,000 troops of Mael Mordha, King of Leinster, and his Viking allies, led by the King of Dublin, Sigtrygg Silkbeard. Leinster lost that day. But, as he knelt praying in his tent, the Viking Brodir ran in and slew the old king Brian with his axe.
A thousand years later, on March 15, 2014, Brian O'Driscoll threw himself into his last epic battle for Ireland, and that day too, victory was theirs as the Gallic forces were defeated on their own soil and Ireland were Six Nations champions.
The affluent seaside homeland of Brian O'Driscoll, (Cluain Tarbh means "meadow of the bull") is today one of the most desirable places to live in Dublin, north or south.
It's got miles of seafront walks along Clontarf Promenade, spectacular views across Dublin Bay from Howth to Dun Laoghaire; the magnificent St Anne's Park with its spectacular Rose Garden and playing fields, and the Bull Island nature reserve. Clontarf is also home to two fantastic golf courses.
Then there's Dollymount Strand, where you can walk the dog, jog, run, kite surf or just bathe. This is also where generations of city dwellers learned to drive. The strand runs along the east side of Bull Island.
Clontarf's combination of close proximity to the city, mature and large period properties and broad mix of dwellings, with everything from Georgian terraces and Victorian villas to Edwardian red-bricks and 1920s' "arts & crafts"-style bungalows and modern apartment complexes, mean it is the north city's most sought-after and fought over address.
Clontarf is bounded to the west and south by Fairview Park and the suburb of Marino, to the north by Killester, Artane and Coolock and to the northeast by St Anne's Park and Raheny. Its southern boundary lies on one side of the estuary of the river Tolka.
All that bracing sea air can make one peckish and thirsty. Happily, the affluent area is home to an unusually large number of restaurants to fine dine in or public houses in which to slake one's thirst. You can do both in Gilbert & Wrights pub, in Hollybrook Park, also home to the Michelin-Bib-Gourmand Downstairs restaurant.
The Clontarf Road is home to the cosy and buzzy seafood and tapas spot, Hemmingways, Kinara Restaurant, multiple winner of Georgina Campbell's Ethnic Restaurant of the Year gong, and the Bay Restaurant, with its dishes made from seasonal, locally sourced produce.
Vernon Avenue's restaurant quarter includes Moloughneys, with its trademark fish, charcuterie and cheese plates, and the Italian eaterie, Picasso.
Meantime, the Fahrenheit restaurant in Clontarf Castle Hotel was recently awarded an AA Rosette. Fish landed at nearby Howth Harbour and aged Angus beef are specialities. Or, you could nip over to Beshoffs on Vernon Road for fresh ray and chips.
On Clontarf Road, The Yacht pub was voted Carvery of the Year in the Unilever Food solutions top 10 for 2010. Further up is Connollys, known as The Sheds to locals in reference to the sheds used for curing fish in the 17th century. This popular hostelry is home to the Viking Theatre.
Harry Byrne's on Howth Road, once an 18th-century Coaching Inn, has retained its charm, with its red-bricked Victorian exterior and original wooden interior, has retained its charm.Graingers Pebble Beach bar on Conquer Hill Road has live music on most Friday nights.
The area's other best known native is Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, born at 15 Marino Crescent in 1847.
Social/Amenities: As befits the upmarket area it has long become, rugby, cricket, golf, tennis and sailing dominate the sporting scene, even if the local GAA club, with its clubhouse on Seafield Road, does provide Dublin's dashing wing back, Jack McCaffrey. The rugby and cricket clubs share the same premises on Castle Avenue. The rugby club has recently begun construction of a new all-weather pitch.
Golfers are spoiled for choice, with Clontarf GC, on Malahide Road, and St Anne's and Royal Dublin (adopted home of the great Christy O'Connor) both on Bull Island. Clontarf Yacht and Boat club dates back to 1875.
Schools: The area's schools include St Paul's College and the famous Mount Temple Comprehensive, alma mater of Bono and the U2 lads. This is one of just a handful of Protestant-style comprehensive schools in Dublin in the UK style, and with an open and inclusive ethos.
Transport: Dublin City centre is only a short hop away and the Dublin Bus 130 route is excellent. Depending on what part of Clontarf you're in, you may also be able to go up the Howth Road or Fairview to avail of many other routes. Then, of course, there's the DART line.
Property: Agents report that viewings are down lately in the area, as they are all over Dublin, but prices are holding firm.
"Although there are less viewers than last year, (they) are serious, ready to make a decision," says Aisling Delaney of Delaney Estates. "They tend to be people wanting to move back, maybe they have been away and they want to raise their families here."
Conor Gallagher of Gallagher Quigley reports dealing with buyers who are not afraid to take on renovations or extensions, and seeking properties with large front and back gardens with room to add and improve.
At the top end, a period Victorian pile, such as 32 St Lawrence's Road, would start at €1,200,000, and you would expect to pay something similar for a period house or large dormer on Seafield Road or Mount Prospect Avenue.
Much depends, of course, on size, condition and age but, broadly speaking, mid-range three or four-bedroom properties in Clontarf would be asking for upwards of €400,000.
Properties on Kincora Road or Kincora Court, would start at around €420k, but places on Oakley Park, Dollymount Grove or Blackheath, in good condition, would fetch little less than €700k.
Sherry FitzGerald has put the three-bedroom mid-terrace 48 Mount Prospect Drive on the market at €495k, while Gallagher Quigley is looking for €670k for 48 Hampton Court. The four-bed detached 2 Yew Lane (agent, Delaney Estates) is starting at €795k.
You will have to fork out €1.25m or so for 19 Baymount Park, whose large corner site near St Anne's Park has allowed the present owner to double the size of the original home. You will pay something similar for the five-bedroom, three bathroom Victorian red-brick, 32 St Lawrence's Road (Savills).
A small 500 sq ft cottage or ex-council house on Conquer Hill, in not great condition, might go for €200k, whereas you'd pay twice that for one in better shape. For example, 5 Pintail House in the Redcourt Oaks development, a B3 energy rated two-bedroom apartment, at Seafield Road East, is quoted at €425k.
• Next week: Let's Move To... Naas.
* Seafront and scenery
* Excellent sports facilities
* Plenty of good schools
* Proximity to the city centre/airport
* Good restaurants and pubs abound in Clontarf
* House prices are not for the fainthearted
* Cyclists and pedestrians compete for the promenade
* Flooding along the seafront has been an issue
Ever met a person who grew tired of living in Malahide? With its long coastal walks, imposing 12th century castle and leafy publicly accessible grounds, fine marina, excellent pubs and restaurants, kitschy hanging baskets and trendy boutiques for the well-heeled?
TO the outsider Knocklyon means two things: suburbia and Superquinn, sorry, SuperValu. And perhaps to someone looking in, it might even be Dublin's most suburban suburb. This urban village in south west Dublin is so 'new' it's sometimes defined more by where it's not than where it is: it isn't really Ballyboden, Firhouse, Tallaght Rathfarnham or Dundrum.