The big benefit for those living in Swords comes at holiday time. Unlike the rest of us, who spend a small fortune on taxi fares and fret about getting there on time, those who live in Swords in north County Dublin are cheek by jowl with the airport allowing easy and cheap passage on the way out and on the way back.
And Dublin Airport, with its small army of staff, is also a major employer of local people, which assures that there is always money moving around in the vicinity.
It also makes Swords the kind of place that many people often end up in rather than aspire to. But it’s alsoa place thatresidents come to love. Indeed, in 2012, Swords was named the third best town in Ireland to live in, according to a survey conducted by Retail Excellence Ireland, which interviewed 16,000 residents and business owners in 100 locations around the country.
Swords is also known for its vibrant young demographic, reflected in young soccer activity in particular, and at weekends it has a buzzing night life.
There’s easy access to the M1 and M50 and a great bus service to town (especially the excellent Swords Express using the port tunnel). Malahide and the seaside are just across the way and the vicinity has all sorts of places to bring the kiddies of a Sunday, like Newbridge House, Demesne and Farm, and Ardgillan Castle and environs.
Yes, there are downsides too. The traffic can be a drag and parking in the Pavilions shopping centre at the weekend is a killer, but it still feels like a “proper” town. It’s got a partly-restored castle looking out over the main street; the infrastructure is good; employment is high; and the positive community spirit is often remarked on.
A big problem in Swords is schools. Despite having 12 primary schools and four secondary establishments, several are heavily oversubscribed and research is advised.
The same Pavilions shopping centre, located centrally and with a massive Penneys actually fronting on to the main street, has drawn business life away from the northern end of the main street, and the highest preponderance of fast food joints in the country per head of population, has seen the town recognised by the online doctor service Treated.com as the fast food capital of Ireland.
Fingal’s county town and administrative centre was founded in the 6th century by St Colmcille. It is 13km from Dublin city and bordered by the rivers Tolka and Delvin. Perhaps the best known landmarks are St Colmcille’s Church and Round Tower.
The population has almost quadrupled in 30 years (42,738, in the 2011 Census and 11,200 in 1981) and the western side of the town is mainly residential, with the neighbourhoods of Applewood, Rathbeale and Brackenstown to the north of the Ward and Knocksedan, Rivervalley, Rathingle and Boroimhe to the south.
There’s employment in the main business and industrial areas, which are located to the east of the town centre, along the R132 dual carriageway. The neighbourhoods of Seatown, Holywell and Drynam are also to the east of the town core.
Main Street has recently been boosted by British pub chain JD Wetherspoon taking over the Old Borough Pub, and the opening of the Empire superpub at the castle end. The Wright venue on the Airside campus, is a purpose-built nightclub which holds up to 700 over three floors,and has become the night spot for north Dublin.
Luckily, such a young population has more than pubs and nightclubs to look to. Swords is the home of Fingallians, stalwarts of the Dublin GAA football club scene, and it and St Finian’s, on Glen Ellan road, are always on the lookout for young footballers, hurlers and camogie and women’s footballplayers.
Junior soccer is big, too. Swords Celtic, in Balheary, fields four Leinster Senior League sides and over 30 schoolboy/girl teams in the NDSL Leagues. Other notable clubs are Rivervalley Rangers(19 teams - four senior AUL and 15 schoolboy); Swords Manor, on Brackenstown Road(15 teams, one for girls under 15); and Swords Rovers, playing at Balheary Park.
Swords Castle is now open to the public and well worth a visit. Built as a summer palace for the first Anglo-Norman archbishop of Dublin, John Comyn, around 1200, its perimeter wall of 305 metres is unusually large.
The castle grounds and pretty adjoining park on Bridge Street recently hosted the annual Swords festival and the grounds offer a natural amphitheatre which will make a splendid venue for gigs and festivals.
The Archbishop’s Chapel and the Constable’s Tower have been restored to what they thinkit is believed they looked like, even if the gargoyles in the carved wooden gallery look suspiciously contemporary!
‘Swords Castle – Digging History,’ a public archaeological dig, started last Saturday, August 22, and continues until Friday, September 11. The recent surprising discovery of 17 bodies beneath the gatehouse reveals that despite being around for over 800 years the castle it has yet to give up all its secrets”.
Social/Amenities: Swords Estuary, east of the town, is popular for walking and jogging. Across the estuary is an area known locally as The Black Bridges – used for cycling and walking.
Elsewhere, Ward River Valley Park covers over 200 acres. Meantime there’s a swimming pool in Applewood.
Transport: Dublin Bus 41 (frequent), 33 and 102 (to Sutton train station) and the Swords Express rapid bus link to the city centre.
Property: According to Corry Estates, the market has picked up over the last six to nine weeks after much uncertainty due to the Central Bank’s new mortgage lending criteria.
Three-bed family homes in newer estates like Boroimhe, Ridgemount and Holywell are moving well, he says. Here you will get a three-bed semi for between €250,000 and €300,000.
At the higher end of the market, a large four-bed detached house in Highfield, just behind Lord Mayor’s Pub off main street, won’t leave you much change from €500,000, with a three-bed semi around €350,000. In the mid-range, a good four-bed house in Glen Ellan will set you back just over €400,000, while in Holywell or Boroimhe, you will pay between €200,000 and €280,000 for a three-bed family home, depending on condition.
A two-bedroomed townhouse in Castleview, for example, would go for around €200,000.
There are always people looking to buy in Swords but although the Ridgemount estate, looked after by Morton and Flanagan, has sold well, in the longer term, there are
infrastructural improvements needed before larger area planning permission will be obtained.
Flynn and Associates has 13 Sandford Wood, a four-bed semi for €399,000; Corry Estates is asking for €260,000 for the three-bed end-of-terrace 3 Holywell Avenue; while Sherry FitzGerald Blanc has priced the three-bed semi 28 Berwick Grove at €279,000.
The eclectic JCs supermarket, a great range and always good for a bargain.
The Pavilions has everything from SuperValu and Dunnes to TK Maxx, Zara and 11-screen cinema.
Aer Lingus Sport and Leisure Association complex includes bowling alley, pool and athletics track
Traffic and parking, especially at the weekend
Too many takeaways, not enough good restaurants
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Home & Garden
THEY get knocked down but they always seem to get up again. The indomitable denizens of Dublin's Liberties, deep in the heart of the inner city - whose famous wit is set in the very DNA of the metropolis itself - have been through their fair share of ups and downs over the generations.