(IRISH INDEPENDENT, May 22nd, 2015)
Just about every motorist in Ireland will know the striking nine-metre high tarmacadam-surfaced sphere with its yellow road markings and white direction arrows at the turn off for Naas, on the M7 motorway.
The public art piece and now iconic landmark is both a joint and a Joynt venture, being a collaboration between sculptors Rachel Joynt and Remco de Fouw, and is actually called Perpetual Motion.
Situated in a large green area surrounded by roads, it reflects the busy motorways and bypasses that have come to define modern Ireland, but it also captures something of where Naas, the bustling administrative capital of Kildare, is at, literally and metaphorically.
Once the seat of the kings of Leinster, all roads once led to Nás na Riogh, the Irish origin of Naas. St Patrick visited and performed baptisms here, it was fortified by the Normans and plundered by Robert and Edward Bruce. A Norman castle, once part of the towns fortifications, has been converted into the modern Church of Ireland rectory. So it has history.
But Naas has also never stood still and is strategically well placed to meet the future. Near Dublin city and now an important transport hub linking all points south to the capital city, it has a young, well-educated population and is one of the most important commuter towns in the greater Dublin area.
According to Kildare Co Council’s report, “Competing in a Globalised World”, 28 per cent of Kildare’s population has a third level qualification. With NUI Maynooth, the Institute of Technology Carlow and numerous third level Dublin institutions on their doorstep, employers in Naas and beyond have an array of top talent and potential on tap.
The Naas-Newbridge-Kilcullen triangle has been identified as a primary growth centre in the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). Over the last decade, Kildare has witnessed a population increase of 37 per cent – and rising. Statistical data highlights that the county is a top choice for young families putting down roots outside of Dublin.
Naas is a busy market town, dotted with business parks and industrial estates, and there’s all the signs of affluence in the form of numerous restaurants, pubs, sports clubs and all the amenities and services that denote vibrancy and life.
Three national routes – the M4, M7, M9 – run through Kildare and then there are rail links to the north west and west of Ireland via Maynooth and the south and south West via Naas, Newbridge and Kildare. Sallins rail station, just 4km from Naas, serves Dublin city.
The economic life of the town has also received a huge boost with the Kerry Group setting up its research and development division, employing nearly 1,000 people, in the blue chip Millennium Park business park.
For all its industrial and retail bustle, Naas hasn’t forgotten its past, and well maintained landmark buildings like historic St David’s Church, an oasis of tranquility 100 yards from the busy main street, and Naas Courthouse, built in 1807 and extended in 1860, when its distinctive four-columned portico was put in place, have been lovingly maintained.
The town hall has been at the centre of civic life in Naas for over 150 years. It serves as the meeting chamber of the town council and is still at the heart of social and cultural life in the town.
Then there is also the gorgeous harbour area, near the Grand Canal, and its languid waterways are immensely popular with walkers and cyclists, and also used by canoeists and anglers. Then there is Oldtown Demesne gardens and a range of heritage buildings.
The sport of kings has always been big in the Kildare area, of course, and the horsey set are well served, with Punchestown, The Curragh and Naas racecourses all near Naas. Allan Shine, CEO of the Kildare Chamber of Commerce, reported that last month’s edition of the annual Punchestown festival brought in €64 million to the town.
GAA is big here, too, with the Naas, Two Mile House and Eadestown GAA clubs thriving, and Naas United catering for a large number of youngsters.
Golfers have Palmerstown House, Naas, Craddockstown and numerous adjacent courses to choose from. And the K Club and Carton House aren’t far away either.
Motoring enthusiasts can have their vroom with a few at the ever-popular Mondello Park, in Caragh, just 10 minutes drive away.
The town’s busy Tidy Towns volunteer force are largely responsible for a town that is litter free and for getting out those floral displays that adorn many pubs, restaurants and business premises. The town took gold in the Tidy Town’s 2014 awards for large towns.
Naas’s approximately 16,000 inhabitants, and many visitors are well served for restaurants and pubs. Food critic Georgina Campbell awarded the Las Rada wine and tapas bar on the Newbridge Road “10/10 for atmosphere. It’s just lovely”, while Bouchon, on South Main Street, offers “Reasonably priced food, great choice of menu, well presented food, which tasted beautiful”. Following dinner you can pop downstairs to the well-known Kavanaghs pub.
The Brown Bear, in two Mile House, just outside the town, was recommended by Michelin in 2012, but the eaterie with the best reviews, consistently, is Vie de Chateaux, in the town’s harbour area. This small French restaurant and wine bar was the Restaurant Association of Ireland’s choice as Kildare’s best restaurant in 2011 and 2012.
Other noteworthy pubs besides Kavanagh’s are Hayden’s, on Poplar Square, and the old style Thomas Fletchers, on North Main Street. This is a good spot for a quiet, convivial pint, free of TV sets and musical accompaniment, of any kind.
Local legend has it Ronnie Wood, of Rolling Stones fame, couldn’t get no satisfaction when he tried to strum out a few tunes there one night. “I don’t care if he was Red Hurley himself, he’s not playing any music here,” snarled the proprietor. Allegedly.
A Bus Eireann service (Route 126) is available to Naas town, departing from Busarus in Dublin. Naas Racecourse is only a short walk from the bus stop
Train service is available from Heuston Station, Dublin to Sallins. A feeder bus is available from Sallins to Naas (check timetable). A taxi service is in operation from Sallins station also.
The list of schools, primary and secondary, is extensive, and all denominations, and none, as they say, are catered for. Just to show how quickly the local population is growing, Naas Community National School, on the Craddockstown Road , had only six pupils when it opened in 2010, and that has already mushroomed to 200.
Property prices are cheaper than Dublin, but not cheap. An entry level two-bedroom apartment would set you back between €120,000 and 180,000, obviously depending on location, age and energy efficiency. Broadly speaking, a three-bed semi will range from €250,00 to €350,000, again depending on condition and location.
The stockbroker-belts are on the Sallins Road, the Dublin Road and in Two Mile House, where a large detached home will be looking for over the magic million.
Apartment 24 The Beeches (DNG) is looking for €220,00, while 194 Oldbridge Station, a three-bedroom semi in Osberstown, Naas, is on offer for €269,000, through CME Auctioneers. The four-bedroomed 1 Hillside Drive (Sherry FitzGerald O’Reilly) has an AMV of €420,000. The vast Glenbeigh mansion (DNG) on Tipper Road could be yours for €1.4 million or thereabouts.
Next week: Let’s Move To FAIRVIEW
- Easy access to Dublin and Ireland in general
- Tidy, well maintained and attractive; some fine old buildings
- Good restaurants and pubs
- Fantastic sports and recreational amenities
- Plenty of schools
- High employment
- Failure to find anchor tenant for longed for long-touted shopping centre in centre of town has left a hole
- Traffic congestion still being tackled