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Your guide to Blanchardstown: City-in-a-city with hundreds of shops and a movie-star history

And surely one of the only places in the country that once had too many wolves.

The view from the Crowne Plaza in Blanchardstown
The view from the Crowne Plaza in Blanchardstown

Your Neighbourhood is a new series of local area guides from TheJournal.ie, presented by KBC. We’re bringing you the best of city neighbourhoods combined with the latest property data. 

UNTIL A FEW hundred years ago, Blanchardstown was mostly covered by dense forest. Hardly anybody lived there. Although there were some animals: in 1652, the wolf population was so large that authorities ordered a cull.

Gradually a village emerged, one of a number of rural centres outside Dublin. The church was built in the mid-19th century and the Royal Canal brought trade and passengers. But it more or less stayed a village until the 1960s, when the first modern housing developments arrived.

Today, Blanchardstown is one of the largest population centres in the country. About 75,000 people live here – roughly the same as greater Galway city. Out on its own, it would be the fifth biggest urban area in Ireland. Its commercial heart, the Blanchardstown Centre, alone would dwarf most regional town centres, with almost 200 shops and space for 7,000 cars.

Take me there! OK, here you are on the main street of Blanch village, facing the church.

So what’s the big draw? For many people, Blanch is home. It’s where their parents are and often their grandparents too. And lots of those who grew up in the area, stay in the area. It attracts a loyalty that not that many other suburbs can match

But for people moving in? Apart from the community aspects, it has (relatively) affordable housing, and great road links to the city, airport and the rest of the country. And thanks to the commercial juggernaut that is the Centre, it’s a neighbourhood with pretty much everything.

Blanchardstown got some bad publicity in the early part of this century, thanks to a local drug gang. The area still has its problems, like others – but ask a resident and they are unlikely to feel represented by the media coverage.

Sunset from Blanchardstown , Wicklow mountains background

A post shared by Cariano Cariani De Valera (@cariano_cariani) on

What do people love about it? Despite its size, the area hasn’t lost its sense of a neighbourhood, says resident Steve McDonnell.

Growing up in Blanch – if you’re from there you’d never call it Blanchardstown – I loved how so many people can share such a small local feel. Everyone went to the same 5/6 schools and worked in the Centre or near it and ended up in the same three or four pubs. You’d always see the same people all the way along.There’s something great in every small community there like St Mochtas Football, Coolmine Leisure Centre, Brigids GAA, Huntstown Community Centre. Really what is best about it is the people and all the places you meet them.

And… what do people NOT love about it? The area draws people from around the city – and that brings traffic management problems, says Steve.

Traffic lights! Fingal County Council love traffic lights it seems. Legend has it you can’t be at a set of traffic lights in Blanch and not see the next one down the road, reaching it just in time for it to go red. Blanch is hard to get away from… because of all the above good reasons but also because all the lights are red!

What’s the story with house prices? Reasonable by Dublin standards. The average asking price of a property is €256,000 – a figure which puts Blanchardstown in the top 20 lowest-priced neighbourhoods across the capital.

How long will it take me to the city centre? It’s about half an hour’s drive on a reasonable weekday, but that all changes at rush hour when the Navan Road can be pretty bad.

There are bus lanes most of the way, though, and Blanchardstown is well connected by bus – routes include the 17A, 37, 38A/B/C/D, 39/A, 40D, 70, 76A, 220, 236, 238, 239, 270. It’s also one of the routes that has been earmarked for a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor, which should speed up journey times.

The railway runs along the southern fringe of Blanchardstown. Trains from Clonsilla, Castleknock and Coolmine will get you to Connolly in about 20 minutes.

Where should I get lunch? Try the Cottage Café and Wine Bar, a friendly place on the main street which serves lunch standards from paninis to steaks. The Polish specialities come recommended.

Yummy lunching 👍😍🍟☕ #sundays#weekend#cottagecafe

A post shared by Sophie Keely (@sophiekeely1) on

Alternatives: Other than the wealth of chain options in the Centre, you can try Rudy’s for something a little fancier, or Maximilian’s for pizza.

And what’s my new local? The Bell on the Castleknock Road is a big local which does all the standards well: pints, carvery, the match.

Post workout pint 😂

A post shared by Eoin McDonald (@eoinmcd92) on

Alternatives: The Black Wolf on Main Street is a new place (it used to be the Vineyard Bar) which serves craft beer and gastropub food.

Schools and supermarkets? More supermarkets than you can shake a stick at. Two Lidls, a Tesco Superstore, a SuperValu, and an Aldi in Mulhuddart. And that’s before you even get to the shopping centre, which has a Dunnes Stores and a Marks and Spencer.

There are also many primary schools: 31 across Dublin 15, with at least 12 of them in the Blanchardstown area (depending on where you draw the border).

There are six post-primary schools around Blanchardstown: Blakestown Community School (interdenominational, mixed); Edmund Rice College (Catholic, mixed); Luttrellstown Community College (interdenominational, mixed); Scoil Phobail Chuil Mhin in Coolmine (interdenominational, mixed); Riversdale Community College in Corduff (interdenominational, mixed); and Hartstown Community School (interdenominational, mixed).

Anything else I should check out? Go visit the impressive Blanchardstown Public Library, part of the shopping centre complex. It’s the biggest purpose-built public library in Ireland.

OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Blanchardstown trivia to impress a local. Rita Hayworth lived in Blanch for a time (or close by at least). The movie star and pin-up nicknamed ‘The Love Goddess’ was married to Prince Aly Khan, who owned a stud farm in nearby Ongar. The grounds of the stud have now been developed into a housing estate.

Do you live in Blanchardstown? Share your opinion in the comments!

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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