(IRISH INDEPENDENT, March 13th, 2015)
Old Lady Phibsborough is still lively, indeed she’s as cosmopolitan and quirky – in an attractive way – as ever but, how shall we put this politely, she is also in dire need of a makeover. While she has never gone downmarket, neither would she feature in the usual lists of Dublin’s most wanted addresses.
That’s fine when it comes to property prices, as this makes her houses more than affordable for first-time buyers and the like (€350,000 is the ballpark average for a good semi-detached redbrick terrace house), and investors are well wise to the opportunities brought about by by the first intake of students in the DIT Grangegorman campus last September.
The area is also minutes from Dublin’s city centre and is well served by a vast network of buses, while the Luas Cross City Line currently under construction will have stops at Connaught Street and Broombridge Road in nearby Cabra.
The Luas project will link the Luas Red and Green lines with a line from Broombridge in Cabra (interchange with Irish Rail station) and St Stephen’s Green Green Line stop. Construction started in June 2013 with services expected to begin in 2017.
That’s the good news: the not so good is the fact that if any place in Dublin could do with a revamp, in terms of image and marketing, for anyone thinking of moving there to live, it’s the same Phibsborough, bordered as it is by Glasnevin to the north, Drumcondra to the east, Grangegorman to the west, and the King’s Inns on Constitution Hill, to the south.
Now makeovers are all well and fine but unless the underlying bone structure and architecture are good, they rarely work out well. Luckily for Phibsborough, the raw materials are excellent.
Think of Phibsborough, and the ever-busy Doyle’s Corner thoroughfare won’t be long springing to mind. The traffic is hectic, the paths are too narrow, and cyclists can only do their best in the absence of any proper cycle lane network.
But as Angela Ruttledge, owner of the local Woodstock cafe puts it, “Yes, it’s always busy and the traffic is mad, and it’ looks a bit shabby, maybe, but if you actually look up, at those beautiful Victorian buildings … and then further afield you have the Mater Hospital, and the lovely old Broadstone CIE depot.”
A feature of Phibsborough is the expanses of solid, red brick terraces around Connaught Street and the like, and the elegant terraced houses on Shandon Road, Park and Drive, off the North Circular Road.
Ruttledge is part of the local Phizzfest movement, or the Phizzfest Reimagining Phibsborough Campaign, as it is officially known, which is working towards “pedestrian, cyclist, environmental improvements and the creation of a a people-centred urban space”.
Phizzfest started out as an annual five-day local festival, but has morphed into a lobbying group pushing for the development of the area, as well as staging all sorts of cultural events, music concerts, poetry readings, comedy nights, family activities … you name it, all year round, anything to get people involved and keep the spirit and vigour of the place alive.
Phizzfest won the 2011 Epic Award. The Epic awards are open to the voluntary arts sector in Ireland and Britain. Phizzfest also won the People’s Choice Award at Dublin Living Awards in October 2011.
Phibsborough is steeped in history, local and national. At the time of the Easter Rising, the de Valera family home was at 34, Munster Street. Phibsborough has a number of memorials including one to Sean Healy, a 15-year-old member of the Fianna. Healy was one of two Phibsborough Road residents killed during the Easter Rising, the other being one James Kelly.
Local participants in the War of Independence include Harry Boland who was born in Phibsborough. During his early years, James Joyce and his family lived at No 7, St. Peter’s Road.
There is history and there is culture. Phibsborough is well served in terms of good, atmospheric pubs, serving food, such as The Hut, Smiths, the Brian Boru, and the Porterhouse, with its craft beers and stouts.
If you want somewhere a bit livelier at the weekends, McGowans, sometimes known as the Coppers of the Northside, is the place to go for the younger set. Music, dancing and food are all on offer here.
The area has much to offer in terms of amenities. The vast and wonderful Phoenix Park is close by, and it, of course, contains the much improved and expanded Dublin Zoo. Also in nearby Glasnevin is the oasis of tranquillity and mellow reflection that is the Botanic Gardens, or The Bots, as locals refer to it.
There is also Dalymount Park, home of League of Ireland team Bohemians, the pre-Aviva Stadium venue for international soccer, and the once-renowned renowned “Dalymount Roar”. Croke Park is also well within walking distance.
The local population is an interesting mix of “heart of the rowl” locals, students and people working in the city centre. There is a large student population in it owing to its proximity to DIT and the Mater Hospital.
Shopping is easy locally, with everything from a Tesco in the Phibsborough Shopping Centre to the usual array of pharmacies, newsagents, and eateries, ranging from McDonalds and Eddie Rockets to the aforementioned Woodstcck.
A major teaching hospital, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, is located nearby, along with the Mater Private Hospital, both a local and national care centre. Dublin Airport is also easily reachable from here.
The area is particularly well served with bus services, including the 3 4A 4 10 11B 11A 13 13A 16 19 19A 38 38C 38A 38B 39X 83 120 121 122 140 and 746. The aforementioned Luas Line Project will only add to the available travel options
At the higher end of the scale, 32 Charleville Road, just off the North Circular Road, is on offer for €725,000 on this tree-lined road. This large six-bedroom redbrick home has a large rear lawned garden, entry via a pedestrian entrance. As well as the usual period features, it is close to Kings Inns and Blackhall Place.
333 North Circular Rod, priced at €525,000 , is currently in use as a doctor’s surgery (he is about to retire, hence the sale). This red brick bay-windowed period property has a large garage to the rear, where there is there is a large detached outbuilding consisting of a garage for several cars, an office, cloakroom and utility, accessed via a vehicular lane way.
As we have said, €350,000 would be the average price for a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Phibsborough, but if that is too much, 15 Valentia Parade, a one-bedroom, one bathroom terraced house would set you back a more modest €185,000.
- Vacant bedsit houses offer cheap large period properties
- The Botanic Gardens, Phoenix Park and the Zoo
- The Royal Canal and the Blessington Street Basin not far off
- The gargoyles on St Peter’s
- The area is more than slightly tatty
- The ugly 1960s Shopping Centre
- Narrow footpaths
- Traffic and lack of cycle lanes
— Enda Sheppard