(IRISH INDEPENDENT, October 2nd, 2015)
The village of Clonee, ostensibly in Co Meath, but with most of its population actually living over the border in Dublin 15, is a solid yet unsung kind of place. Or places, more accurately, with one side looking to the Royal County and the other all tangled up in sky blue.
To the population at large, Clonee would be seen as a satellite town of Dublin city, 14km away. One one would not say that too loudly walking the Meath streets of the village itself, while those city slickers in Littlepace, Huntstown or Castaheany would be focused eastwards, on Castleknock, Blanchardstown, the Phoenix Park and the capital itself. Where many of them would work and commute to regularly.
The Meath set would be more likely to socialise in the Grasshopper Inn on Main Street – “the last pub in the village”, according to Martin Regan of the family firm that has run it for generations – and Dunboyne Tennis Club, which is actually in Clonee, while the D15ers might drink in The Paddocks in Littlepace, and GAA heads there would more likely support St Brigids’s in Castleknock, while the rugby folk might hang out at Coolmine RFC.
Whatever their side of the divide, residents, or prospective inhabitants, would agree Clonee offers good value for your property buck, particularly for first-time buyers, with a decent three-bedroom semi available for just over €250,000 in the likes of Hunters Run, Beechfield, Pheasant Run, Rosedale, Linnetsfield, Swallowbrook or Bramblefield.
Just off the N3 Dublin to Cavan road and and also near the M50 motorway, and with a decent train and bus service to the capital, Clonee’s attraction for house buyers is already obvious, but this will surely go right off the scale when the Broombridge Road stop on the €370 million Luas Cross City project is completed, as anticipated, in 2017.
When it is finished there will be a cross platform interchange with the Maynooth rail line, which serves Clonee via Clonsilla (making it easier for families to get their offspring off to Maynooth University, of course) and commuters will get able to hop on the linked up red and green Luas lines.
Clonee has seen enormous changes over the last 20 years, especially with the rapid spread of developments surrounding the old villages of Littlepace, Ongar and Williamstown, once all well-known stud farms.
As well as sending workers into the city, Clonee, from the Irish Cluain Aodha, meaning “Aodh’s pasture, has also known strong employment locally, especially from the likes of the multi-national Kepak food group, which employs over 2,000 people and has an annual turnover of €850 million, and has its headquarters in the village.
There was also good news when social network giants Facebook announced plans for a €200 million new data centre in Clonee. The investment in the data centre would bring Facebook’s Irish staff numbers to over 1,000, with hundreds of other jobs also be created during the construction phase.
“Similar investments by Facebook have typically led to an economic impact in the order of hundreds of millions of euros, with thousands of jobs supported,” said a spokesman for Facebook.
However, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook friends were doubtless spluttering into their macrobiotic muesli last week when they read reports in the Meath Chronicle that an appeal had been lodged against Meath County Council’s granting of planning permission for the massive development, on behalf of John and Julie Creagh of Kilbride Road, Clonee.
While in favour of the project, the couple feels its concerns around the expected vast increase in traffic volume and the potential traffic hazards brought about by heavy goods vehicles and plant machinery during the construction phase, have not been properly addressed. The case is due to be decided by December 22nd.
More a place of Chinese and Indian takeaways than sit down restaurants, the village itself would see the Grasshopper Inn as less a pub than an unofficial community centre. As well as offering good bar food – steak on the stone the house specialty and their thai green curry also popular – function rooms for the usual wedding and christening parties, it also hosts everything from pub quizzes to the occasional trad session.
Dunboyne Tennis Club, just off the N3 on the Old Kilbride Road in Clonee village, has over 300 members using its four outdoor, all-weather floodlit courts, practice wall and clubhouse. It also offers an extensive coaching programme for juniors and seniors, as well as the usual pub quizzes, barbecues, fun tennis competitions and general fundraisers.
As well as fielding men’s and women’s senior teams, Erin Go Bragh GAA club, operating in Littlepace/Castaheany, has underage teams from under eight up to minor, and a nursery for children aged 4-7. New players are always welcome.
Clonee United soccer team is also very strong.
Royal Meath Pitch and Putt club, right in the village, has hosted the National Gents’ Strokeplay championship, the Inter-County championships, the 1995 renewal of the Ireland v Australia international series and the first Irish International Open in 2009.
Clonee residents have easy access to well known Co Meath golf courses including Royal Tara and the Dunboyne R and R public course, while Castleknock GC is also easily reached.
Clonee Music Tuition Centre, in the Coláiste Pobail Setanta secondary school in Hazlebury Park, provides lessons for both children and adults living in Clonee, Dunboyne, Ongar, Clonsilla and the greater Blanchardstown area.
Aldi and Lidl both have branches in the village, but Blanchardstown shopping centre, with its huge range of shops, cinema and the Draiocht arts & entertainment centre, is only a short drive away, as is the Phoenix Park and the National Aquatic Centre.
Served by Hansfield Station in nearby Ongar, Dunboyne station and Clonsilla, trains can be taken to the Dublin Docklands, via Dublin city, and to Dunboyne and MS Parkway in the opposite direction. Clonee village is accessible by Dublin Bus routes 70 (Baggot St-Dunboyne) and 270 (Blanchardstown Shopping Centre-Dunboyne). Bus Eireann routes 109 (to/from Cavan) and 105 (to/from Fairyhouse racecourse) also serve Clonee.
Clonee is well set up for primary schools, including educate together branches in both Hansfield (Barnwell Road) and Castaheany (Ongar village), as well as the Mary Mother of Hope Primary school in the St Charles Houben building in Littlepace, and St Peter’s in Dunboyne.
At secondary level, besides Pobal Scoil Setanta, there is an Educate Together Secondary School in Hansfield, between Ongar village and Hansfield train station, while St David’s College in Dunboyne is also popular.
As mentioned already, an average three-bed semi varies from about €240,000 to €290,000 in Clonee, while a decent four-bed semi would fetch between €290,000 and €320,000. This is where most of the market is, with little high end activity. The market has remained steady, even as the Central Bank cap has impacted, with prices about the same as last year.
Satis Property has 24 Bramblefield Walk, a three-bed semi, for €220,000; Wilson Moore has opened 6 The Glade, Hunters Run, a three-bed semi, at €259,000; while the four-bed semi 2 Hazlebury Green is priced at €295,000 by Duffy Auctioneers.
- Location near main motorways and good train and bus services to city
- Excellent social and shopping amenities close at hand
- Good schools and sports facilities
- More than one train station close but none in the village
- Not exactly picturesque
- Too built up for some tastes