(IRISH INDEPENDENT, June 19th, 2015)
Greystones. Such a dull name for a place of such easy elegance, vitality, charm and scenic allure. Far from the madding city yet still within easy train, bus or road reach of the capital and all parts north, west or south. The best of both worlds, it would appear.
Named after a stretch of coast between two beaches where, yes, stones of an intermediate achromatic colour between black and white were to be found, mother nature has otherwise painted from a wild and generous palette in this place set fair between iridescent sea, verdant forests and hills of seasonally-shifting shades and shadows.
Greystones is on the east coast in north Wicklow, 8km south of Bray and 27 km south of Dublin, with a population that has grown from 10,000 in 1991 to over 17,000, according to the 2011 census. The town is bordered by the Irish Sea to the east, Bray Head to the north and the Wicklow Mountains to the west.
Rumblings of discontent have been heard in this seaside Shangri-la of late, however, as it struggles to retain its village charm with a rapidly-growing growing population, and in the face of the developer’s blandishments.
The vast concrete marina and boatyard project in the harbour area in the northern part of the town is impossible to miss right now and public opinion locally has been divided on its merits.
Broadly speaking, the consensus is it’s fine if you like sailing, less so if you don’t. Which or whether, construction work continues apace on the construction of new clubhouses for the local sea scouts, rowers, divers, anglers and the main one for the sailing set.
The clubhouses are being provided “free” by harbour developer Sisk, with completion expected at the end of this year.
Following that, work is to start on a public square, boardwalk and public park.
Then, there is the recent news that Greystones Golf Club, in the heart of the town, has been approached by a property development company interested in a taking over the course and moving the club to a new site near nearby Delgany.
The Castlepark Building Company’s €100 million-plus proposal covers the club’s 127-acre town-centre location, incorporating a Georgian manor house on the exclusive Burnaby estate. Watch this space, as they say.
Otherwise there’s not much evidence of agony in this neck of the Garden County. In 2008, Greystones was named as the world’s ‘most liveable community’ at the LivCom Awards in China.
It’s the kind of place where one notes on the local Greystones Orchestra’s website: “We are in need of violas! There are also vacancies in the wind section for oboists and a bassoonist. Brass players are always welcome”.
Along with all your standard Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Supervalue outlets, Greystones has any amount of quirky vintage shops, boutiques, cafes, bars and excellent restaurants, and has become a Mecca for tourists.
These visitors are also drawn to the broad one kilometer length of the sandy South Beach, which flies the coveted Blue Flag.
Greystones’ second beach, the North Beach, which begins at the harbour, is stony and some of its length is overlooked by the southern cliffs of Bray Head, which are subject to erosion.
As well as the obvious water sport attractions, within easy reach there are so many outdoor activities to choose from, including golf, hill walking, rugby, GAA, horse riding, historic houses and gardens.
The once sleepy fishing village of Greystones was put on the map with the coming of the railway in 1855. In the latter half of the 19th century the town’s development gathered momentum.
To the north of the station, Church Road, Victoria Road, and Trafalgar Road were laid out and many houses were built in the years following the arrival of the railway. At the end of World War II, cars and petrol became widely available, allowing Greystones to gradually expand, filling in the space between itself and outlying areas such as Blacklion, Killincarrig, and Delgany.
The major success story locally in recent years is the Happy Pear natural-food market and eatery on Main Street, owned and run by dynamic identical twins David and Stephen Flynn. This busy pair have expanded their original organic vegetable shop to include a shop, cafe, online shop and farm, and are spreading their healthy food message in schools and beyond though their Happy Heart course. Fresh wheatgrass juice is liquid gold, this pair believe.
On the same road, you will see people dining outside A Caviston’s, and there is the authentic Italian Caffe Delle Stelle, on Church Street, owned by Tomasso and Nadia. They have a great value daytime menu.
The new, hip Mrs Robinson Bar with its funky retro decor and sofas is also proving a big hit in the area.
Popular starters at Vino’s Restaurant and cafe on the same street include antipasti platters, bruschetta and homemade duck liver pate.
If it’s authentic Indian you want, that’s what you will get at Chakra by Jaipur, in the Meridian Point Centre. “High-quality fine dining in the Indian style”, is how actor and restaurant reviewer Alan Stanford described his dining experience there in 2011in the Irish Independent.
Diners at The Three Qs on Church Road will tell you Brian, Paul and Colin Quinn certainly know how to put on a good spread, offering an excellent mix of modern and international cuisine in a pleasantly laid-back atmosphere. They were winners of the Best Restaurant in Wicklow 2014 award.
Popular pubs are the Burnaby and the Beach House, which houses the well known music venue The Hot Spot upstairs. Hozier regularly played there not so long ago.
The Cliff Walk between Greystones and Bray is a must for any visitor and this 7 kilometres route follows the railway line. Dramatic coastal views open up at every turn, from rocky outcrops to open sea views over the Wicklow coast, Killiney and Dublin Bay.
As well as having a well-known and successful senior team Greystones RFC has 600 boys and girls playing minis and youths and also fields five men’s teams, a women’s team, a thriving men’s over 35s tag section, social mixed tag league and the special needs Seagulls tag team.
Éire Óg Greystones GAA Club recently completed a major clubhouse extension, to cater all the better for approximately 800 members and around 20 teams competing in hurling, camogie, Gaelic football and women’s football.
An entry level two-bed apartment in the likes of Blacklion Manor would set you back €250,000, while a four-bed semi would vary between €450,000 and €500,000, depending on aspect, orientation and condition, in the likes of Applewood Heights, Rathdown, Hillside or Redford Park. A detached manor in the venerable high hedge, gated Burnaby estate, Greystones’ very own Foxrock, would set you back up to €1,300,000.
McGovern Estates is asking €279,000 for the three-bed 147 Charlesand Park duplex; Sherry FitzGerald has the three-bed terraced 16 Willowmere starting at €350,000; O’Gorman Properties has placed 5 Killincarrig Manor, a two-bedroom mews, for €610,000.
Greystones can be reached both by DART rail and Dublin Bus’s 84 route from Dublin and Bray. Iarnrod Eireann commuter and InterCity trains also serve Greystones, linking it with Wicklow, Arklow, Gorey, Wexford and Rosslare Europort to the south, and Dublin’s Connolly Station to the north.
Parents and their children have every educational option at their disposal, from the local Educate Together to the Gaelscoil, and to Educate Together, Gaelscoil (Gaelscoil na gClocha Liath, Blacklion) and Greystones Community National School (CNS) will open in September, in Greystones Rugby Club grounds at Dr Hickey Park (subject to planning permission), while the major new secondary school to be opened soon at Templecarrig will cater for around 1,500 pupils.
- Fashion boutique JuJu, overall winner of The Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland fashion category last year
- Amalgamation of Greystones United soccer club with Greystones AFC a great boost especially for children’s soccer
- Shoreline Leisure Greystones has been voted Ireland’s best Leisure Centre 2015
- Charlesland Sports and Recreation Club has all-weather athletic track, skateboard park, baseball diamond, tennis courts and climbing wall
- Drawn out saga of the marina and harbour development
- Lack of passing loop ensures Dublin trains not as frequent as they might be
- Many commuters exercised by the stiff hike in train prices for passengers from Dublin between Bray and Greystones