(IRISH INDEPENDENT, June 26th, 2015)
“THE VILLAGE lies in the lap of the rich and wooded valley of the Liffey, and is overlooked by the high grounds of the beautiful Phoenix Park on the one side, and by the ridge of the Palmerstown hills on the other.”
Thus was Chapelizod described in 1851 by renowned Gothic horror writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, author and former resident of the village, due west of Dublin city, in postal district 20, and approximately 6km from the capital’s centre, in the introduction to his collection Ghost Stories of Chapelizod.
Many of his macabre tales are set in the village and the streets he would have known have remained largely unchanged, and the same landmarks are still etched against its skyline. Most prominent of these are St Laurence’s Church of Ireland, with its medieval tower and housing clustered around it, and the imposing Catholic Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary church prominently positioned at the eastern entrance to the village.
The Liffey follows a serpentine route between the sloping hills which rise steeply in the vicinity of the village, and with the mature trees along its banks and woods on the higher ground of the Phoenix Park, the area around Chapelizod is most scenic.
Chapelizod is full of character and charm, especially the gravity – but not lawnmower, seemingly – defying verdant back gardens that slope spectacularly down to the river adjacent to the Anna Livia Bridge that fords the river in the heart of the village.
The village also largely manages to pulls off the difficult feat of blending period dwellings and contemporary apartment blocks.
The light of other days still falls on old Chapelizod, where human habitation can be traced to a cromlech, known as the “Knockmaree Dolmen”, located at the top of Knockmaree Hill, to the north west of the town, heading towards the Strawberry Beds, and which local historians claim predates the pyramids by 500 years.
If old ghosts do meet in Chapelizod, as Le Fanu would have it, what interesting get togethers they must be. Especially if they allow figures of legend to swell their ranks.
The village is associated with Iseult, daughter of King Anguisshe, King of Ireland (who flourished in the days of King Arthur and the knights of the round table) She is a main character in the opera Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner. Chapelizod, in Irish is Seipeil Iseult, or Iseult’s Chapel, located near the village centre, on Mill Lane, and said to mark the place where Tristan asked for her hand in marriage.
Another denizen sure to make a spectre of himself would be James Joyce. A man of many addresses in Dublin, his ties with Chapelizod are strong, as his father worked in the distillery in the town.
Joyce loved the area so much he set his epic Finnegans Wake in the environs of Chapelizod, the Phoenix Park and Strawberry Beds. The village is also the setting of his short story A Painful Case, in Dubliners.
The great writer’s Feis Ceol bronze-medal-winning tenor voice would also lend itself to his pick of the reputed 15,000-plus songs accumulated by well-known traditional singer, song collector and Chapelizod native Frank Harte by the time of the latter’s death in 2005.
Another famous son of the village is Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865-1922), the Rupert Murdoch of his day in Britain, as he would become the influential owner of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. His ancestral home, Sunnybank, went up for sale recently and ancestor, Lord Rothermere, chairman of the Daily Mail and Harmsworth’s great-great-grandnephew, bought it for posterity
The centre of Chapelizod is in a wedge shape, though curiously known as The Square, lined with tall 18th and later 19th and 20th century buildings and terraced streets and laneways. This was pedestrianised in 2009.
The south side of the Square, which once contained the distillery where Joyce’s father was secretary, and mills, has been re-developed for apartment complexes The Weir and The Island.
The western end of the Square is Mullberry Terrace, named for the grove of trees planted to provide food for the silkworms used in the cloth-making process set up in Chapelizod in the 1800s.
In the early 2000s The Chapelizod Old Village Association (COVA) worked hard to retain tthe building now known as Tristan & Isolda House, and the adjoining Bandroom building, now fully restored, and rendered in the original lime putty plaster.
The Bandroom is now the centre of community activity in the area. The Tidy Town Committee meet there during the summer months.
COVA, active for over 20 years, has played a huge part in fostering the strong community spirit that is a feature of life in Chapelizod. Many of its members would also be active on the Tidy Towns front – the village won the Urban Village section in 2010 – and also find time to bring out their community information magazine CHAT (Culture, Heritage, Activities & Traditions) magazine four times a year.
The local heritage society has also published Volume 1 of a history of the area, entitled Adsiltia.
COVA and friends have been up to their eyes recently, putting the finishing touches to the programme of events for the annual Chapelizod Community Festival, which runs this year from June 28th to July 4th.
Chapelizod is bordered to the west by Palmerstown, to the north-west by the Strawberry Beds, to the south by part of Ballyfermot and the main western thoroughfare out of Dublin city, the N4 road, and to the north by the Phoenix Park.
As well as rowing on the Liffey, there is St Patrick’s GAA club based in nearby Palmerstown, serves Chapelizod also. The club won the Dublin Intermediate Football Championship in 2009 and gained promotion to the county’s Senior Football Championship. Most recent success has come in winning the 2013 Dublin AHL Division 2 and promotion to the Dublin Senior Hurling League.
The area has no major restaurant apart from Wright’s Anglers Rest in the Strawberry Beds. Their signature dish is their black pudding starter, but they also do a really good fish pie. There is also live trad music seven nights a week
The Villager pub is a classic local bar in the heart of the village and it too has live rad music, every Wednesday night. Upstairs is where the younger set hang out, and the main bar is for for the older folks
Regular Dublin Bus service and also the 66N Nitelink.
St Patrick’s National School in the middle of the village, and St. Laurence’s Primary School on Martin’s Row, and Mpunt Sackville and Saint Dominic’s (in nearby Ballyfermot) secondary schools
Liffey Valley is just up the road and closer still is a lot of shops including Lidl and Tescos in Ballyfermot.
According to Roger Berkeley of Berkeley and Associates), the market has been busy recently – “It’s not as busy as before Christmas, but still very busy. Everything we have, it’s been selling. There’s always a demand in Chapelizod.”
A one-bed starter apartments (popular again) would go for €120,000 pus, while a two-bed would go a,little over €200,000.
The higher end of the market would be on Glenaulin or Belgrove, where a three-bed semi would normally fetch over €320,000, depending on condition. Upmarket properties in the beautiful Strawberry Beds would go for between €425,000 and €480,000
Ray Cooke has put 508 Lucan Road, a two-bed semi, on the market at €249,950; Berkeley is looking for €285,000 for 34 Glenaulin, a three-bed terraced house; €325,000 is the asking price for DNG’s two–bed duplex apartment for sale at Chapel Hill
- Proximity to the city
- Phoenix Park: the vast Phoenix Park, and Dublin Zoo close by
- Donore Harriers Athletic Club on the banks of the Liffey augmented by 300m all-weather rubber based training track and field event facilities,
- Adjacent to the newly created Liffey Valley Park
- New Row community garden
- No good restaurant, accept for the Angler’s Rest in the Strawberry Beds
- Despite the commendable efforts of the Tidy Towns, some unsightly derelict buildings
- Not well-enough promoted: 2014 Tidy towns report noted need for map with heritage trails to be featured in the Square