(IRISH INDEPENDENT, July 10th, 2015)
The first thing to say about Castleknock is there’s Castleknock, and then there’s Castleknock. They share the same name, even the same geographical co-ordinates and D15 postal code, but really, they’re worlds apart.
The first Castleknock is that golden mile of massive detached manors just out the north gates of the Phoenix Park heading towards Castleknock village. In the popular imagination this is a straight line of golden circle bankers and merchant princes living in the Georgian Village and Deerpark (Dearpark, more like). It’s where those Castleknock College kids live in gated splendour with their high-flying millionaire parents, living high-flying millionaire lifestyles. The people here dwell in mansions.
In the other, much larger Castleknock, the people live in houses. It is a solid suburban sprawl just 8km west of Dublin’s city centre, just inside the M50 ring road, bordered to the west by Blanchardstown, to the east by the Phoenix Park, to the north by old townland of Dunsink and to the south by Chapelizod above the Liffey valley.
Moving beyond the village west towards the Royal Canal, the other side of which lies Blanchardstown, we find affordable, middle-class Oaklawn, Beechpark, Park Avenue, Clovers, Park Drive, Hawthorn Lodge and Laurel Lodge. To the west, the village blends into Carpenterstown, Porterstown and Luttrellstown.
Castleknock is so near the city and yet at the edge of all 1,760 acres of the Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban public park in Europe, with its vast leafy walkways, multitude of sports facilities and pitches, and Dublin Zoo. The airport is a 10-minute drive in good traffic conditions and the area is well served by bus and rail (commuter service to the city and also on the Dublin Connolly to Longford line).
There’s good schools aplenty. Primary schools like Scoil Thomais in Laurel Lodge; Scoil Choilm, on the Porterstown Road; St Patrick’s in Diswellstown, and the very popular Educate Together on Beechpark Avenue. Anyone moving here would be well advised to get their children down immediately for the school of their choice.
Besides the fee-paying boys only Castleknock College – which is not reserved for scions of the rich and connected – for secondary school students there’s Castleknock Community College on the Carpenterstown Road.
This progressive school has come a long way in since starting life in temporary accommodation at Hartstown Community School in 1995. But such has been the rapid growth of the population locally and the demand for school places, County Dublin VEC established Coláiste Pobail Setanta in nearby Clonee and Luttrellstown Community College.
In the best Irish traditions, the origin of the name Castleknock (in Irish, the castle of Cnucha) is an intriguing mix of legend and fact.
Cnucha was the wife of Ruadraidhe or Genam who first arrived with the Firbolgs in the country around 3000 years ago.
Fr John Cambell, a former vice-president of Castleknock College, and a noted historian in his day, wrote of the two hills in the college grounds, each some 60 feet above the surrounding plain. Legend has it one them is is the burial mound of Cumhaill, father of Fionn McCumhaill, and leader of the Fianna, who was slain in the Battle of Cnucha by Goll Mac Morna, sent by King Cormac Mac Airt after Cumhaill had abducted the king’s beloved Muirna.
On the other hill is the remains of an actual Norman castle, dating from the early 13th century, and which, according to Cambell, gave the name to the surrounding barony.
Castleknock was still a rural village in western County Dublin until the late 1960s, when the first housing estates began to be developed. It evolved in tandem with neighbouring Blanchardstown, both of them growing rapidly from the early 1970s to the present.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the village became subsumed into the suburban fabric of Dublin.
The Royal Canal here is a beautiful place to walk or cycle alongside.
Castleknock is well-served for sporting facilities. St Brigid’s GAA club, whose main pitch is Dr Tom Russell Park, on the Old Navan Road in Castleknock, were Dublin senior football champions in 2011, and have five adult teams, including two senior teams and an intermediate team. The club is always on the look out for young players and its Nursery section runs from 9.30 to 11 every Saturday morning.
Castleknock GAA also run a nursery every Saturday in Tír na nÓg Park beside Castleknock Community College, from 10am till noon. The club has over 1,500 members from over 650 families.
Castleknock Tennis Club, off the Navan Road, has 1,285 members, of which 570 are juniors. The club has 10 outdoor courts (all floodlit) and three indoor courts.
If golf is your thing, the courses at Castleknock, Luttrellstown, Westmanstown and Elm Green are all minutes way by car.
There are two local soccer clubs, St Mochta’s FC and Castleknock Celtic FC (which has forged links with Glasgow Celtic’s youth academy, as part of their International Partnership programme).
The National Aquatic centre in nearby Blanchardstown has a superb 50-metre pool and an extensive water park, and attracted over 815,000 visitors in 2012.
Food and drink
The Royal Canal also serves as a picturesque backdrop to dining, European-style, at the 12th Lock restaurant on Castleknock Marina. Wongs and the Mandarin Castle, both in the village, are very good Chinese restaurants, while the Okra Green, an ethnic Pakistani establishment, in the Village Shopping Centre, does an excellent early bird. Castello Bruno, on Main Street, has a real Italian family trattoria vibe.
De Brun’s in the Ashleigh Centre, on Main Street, and which houses a restaurant upstairs (their steak on the stone comes highly recommended), is a really attractive, old-school bar, and is particularly popular with the younger set in Castleknock.
The iconic Myos Bar, on Main Street, could, however, do with a makeover. The decor is somewhat dated.
Served by the Dublin Suburban Rail, the Western Suburban Railway Line, or Maynooth Line running from Connolly to Maynooth, and by Dublin Bus 37 and 38.
Now “day-only”, Castleknock College has 10 rugby pitches, a soccer pitch, a cricket crease with pavilion, an athletics and running track, six floodlit tennis courts, table tennis centre and even stables.
The school was awarded joint first place in the Irish Independent’s list of the best schools in Ireland, with 100 per cent of graduates going on to third level.
It was also ranked joint first top feeder school for Irish universities and in the top ten schools feeding to high point courses (over 400 points) in Irish universities 2012 and 2013 (Irish Independent).
Fee-paying Mount Sackville School for girls, although located close to Chapelizod is within the boundary of the Fingal County.
Castleknock, like Clontarf, just has that name, and really, it’s high end or mid-range property for sale here. Your Georgian Village or Deerpark mansion will set you back at least €1.2 million. According to Johnny Craven, of Alliance Auctioneers in Blanchardstown, higher end properties are selling well.
Moving out then the far side of the village, estates built in late 1990s and 2000s, like Laurel Lodge, Luttrellstown and Riverwood will fetch €350,000 for a three-bed semi. Robert Lowry Properties is asking for €395,000 for 41 Luttrellstown Avenue.
The new development coming on stream soon at Diswellstown, adjacent to Luttrellstown, will be offering three and four-bed semis, for about €450,000 (three-bed) and €520,000, Craven reckons, even though his firm won’t be handling sales there. Alliance Auctioneers has 18 Castleknock Way on offer for €525,000
Going more upmarket, as one moves back towards the village centre, still on the north side, the smaller Georgian style detached houses in Park avenue, go for around the €700,000 mark.
Flynn and Associates have priced 9 Georgian Village at €1.5 million
- Blanchardstown Shopping Centre near by
- City centre, Phoenix Park and National Aquatic Centre close
- Great sports and leisure facilities
- Waiting lists in many schools.
- That whole area is bad for traffic at peak times.
- Anti-social behaviour an issue in estates beyond the village centre