(IRISH INDEPENDENT, April 3rd, 2015)
Now fabulous scenery, terrific amenities, a good transport network, atmospheric pubs, thriving sports clubs and decent restaurants are all very good reasons for choosing a place to live, but really, for the average John or Jane Smith, affordability of housing comes before anything. And this is where Drogheda, on the mouth of the mighty Boyne river, scores high.
We will come to all that the Co Louth town and surrounding area have to offer home buyers, but first the property prices locally. Using the standard three-bedroom semi-detached home price as a marker, the Co Louth town compares very well nationally, especially for those finding the Dublin market a bit stiff. But the message is coming in Louth and clear: you better get in there fast.
According to the Real Estate Alliance’s recent national survey, the price of an average three-bed semi in Louth rose by 22.36% in 2014, but, according to CEO Philip Farrell,
“Kildare, Louth and Meath all offer average housing under he Central Bank’s new threshold of €220,000 for those looking to buy in the commuter belt with accessibility to Dublin.”
Drogheda, a big town with a good transport network and plenty of amenities, is also on the coast, with all that that entails in terms of recreation and tourism, and is also adjacent to Dublin and Dublin Airport, so it compares very favourably with said Kildare and Meath.
According to Darina Collins, owner of REA O’Brien Collins, based in Drogheda, the average price of a three-bed semi on the high end of the market (essentially anywhere along the old Dublin Road on the south side of the town), would be between i€135,000 and €170,000, with €200,000 at the very high end.
On the other side of the town, however, in the coastal village of Termonfeckin, for example, Collins has a three-bed terraced house on offer for €125,000. Prices on the north side of Drogheda, she says, would be 10 per cent less than southside estates like Grangerath, Roschoill, Five Oaks, and Wheaton Hall.
While the local market is strong enough, it is the Dublin market that drives house prices in the town, and Collins describes that market as “very much back”.
“We find a lot of people have been priced out of Swords, Malahide and the north Dublin towns, and since they’re already commuting, why not Drogheda?”
Why not indeed? The town has two major retail parks (the M1 Retail Park and Drogheda Retail Park, on either side of the Boyne river), good shopping, access to nice beaches; three championship golf courses within easy reach (Baltray, Seapoint and Laytown Bettystown), easy rail and driving access to Dublin and the airport; a thriving arts and cultural scene; a League of Ireland team to follow in Drogheda United, and more.
Drogheda, located on the mouth of the Boyne, is rich in history: while it is generally accepted the town was established by the Normans, the area around the mouth of the Boyne has a history that stretches back thousands of years.
The Boyne Valley, which encompasses counties Louth and Meath, is a World Heritage Site and is the largest and one of the most important prehistoric megalithic sites in Europe.
The Prehistoric inhabitants of the area built huge burial tombs on the banks of the river Boyne and on hilltop sites such as Loughcrew. Today, the Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, which are older than the pyramids in Egypt and pre-date Stonehenge by 1000 years, continue to attract huge numbers of visitors. The area is believed to contain around 40 passage tombs in total.
The area was also hugely important in pre-Christian times when the Hill of Tara seated the High Kings of Ireland and the Feast of Samhain was celebrated by the druids on the Hill of Ward near the town of Athboy.
In the middle ages, the Norman settlers from Wales and England built castles such as Navan Motte and the impressive castle at Trim as defence against the native Irish. The castle at Trim is the largest remaining Norman castle in Europe and is noted for the part it played in the filming of Braveheart.
The area also hosted probably the most infamous battle in British and Irish history. The Battle of the Boyne took place on July 1st, 1690 and saw Willam III gain victory over James II. The battle continues to play a role in Irish politics to this day.
The 2006 Census indicated Drogheda’s urban and suburban population was approximately 45,000.
Highlanes Gallery, on Laurence Street, displays works from the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, a formidable collection of works dating back to the 17th century.
The gallery works closely with the Droichead Arts Centre, a multi-disciplinary centre, based in Barlow House, and which has a theatre, gallery, studios and a community programme It also houses two theatre companies, the Upstate Theatre Project and the Calipo Theatre and Film Company, as well as a very busy Youth Theatre scene. The Little Duke Theatre, on Duke Street, is a stage school for children.
The local authority has a dedicated Arts Office which promotes the annual Drogheda Arts Festival (last weekend of April (May Bank Holiday weekend)), and an international standard classical and contemporary music programme, principally at St. Peter’s Church of Ireland.
There is an active traditional Irish music scene with several pub sessions plus an annual festival (November), the innovative Drogheda Samba Music Festival (July) and whole range of choral groups. Droichead Arts Centre also provides rehearsal and jamming space for young bands and other musicians.
Drogheda Camera Club) has its own premises and studio at Millmount, while literature is also catered for with writers groups, the annual Aimirgin Literary Festival (September); several authors and poets live locally and there is an annual children’s festival, Leanbh (November).
The Arc Cinema, a six-screen complex opened last year on, West Street,, in the town centre and is reportedly a big success.
Sports cubs locally also include the famous Holy Family Boxing Club and the Lourdes and Duleek boxing clubs; St Mary’s and Wolfe Tones GAA clubs; the Newtown Blues, Oliver Plunkett’s and Sean Tracey’s gaelic football teams; Drogheda RFC; the Laytown Bettystown, County Louth, Baltray and Seapoint championship golf courses; Boyne Rovers women’s soccer club; Boyne AC; while chess, handball; swimming and other activities are also catered for.
All the big retail names are represented — Dunnes Stores, Marks and Spencer, Boots, Tesco, Pennys, as well as fashion outlets Next, Wallis, Oasis, Topshop, to name but a few. West Street and Laurence Street, the traditional heart of the town, have been transformed and offer extensive shopping. Two retail centres, Laurence Town Centre and Scotch Hall, are located within the town centre area.
Bus Eireann regular service, Iarnrod Eireann to Belfast, Cork, Limerick and all main cities, Galway, Derry, Waterford, Dublin airport (40 minutes by Bus Eireann), Matthews Coach Hire, operate to and from Dundalk, Dublin, Bettystown, Laytown; students to UCD Belfield and IFSC and Dublin City centre
At the high end of the market, 23 Colpe Road, a three-bedroom semi in the Deepforde Estate, off the old Dublin Road on the south side of town, has an asking price €199,950; 15 Park Square, Grangerath, a three-bed semi, just off the Dublin Road In need of work, has an asking price of €165,000.
11 Wigeon Street, Aston Village, on the north side of the town, is a three-bed semi priced at €140,000; while 22 Priory Lodge , a three-bed terraced house in the centre of the coastal village of Termonfeckin, 6km north of Drogheda, in on offer for €135,000.
- Attractive for commuters; train station on the Dublin road; five minutes to the motorway and 20 minutes from Dublin Airport
- Good shopping
- Coastal amenities
- Busy arts/cultural scene
- Downside, retail was hit hard by recession and many businesses closed; so while it is coming back, there are still derelict sites waiting to be filled