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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019
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Your guide to Ashbourne: Diverse commuter town with a history of Eurovision glory

Johnny Logan is just one of its gifts to the country.

Your Neighbourhood is a 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. 

ASHBOURNE IS A town that someone named after himself. Frederick Bourne was a wealthy 19th-century businessman, who by 1820 had made his pile from building toll roads in a (previously almost roadless) Ireland.

Owning some land in Meath, and having built a road to it, he decided to cash in by building a village with a hotel for travellers to stay in. Being a humble sort, he named the village … well, you know. And called its main artery Frederick Street to boot.

For 150 years after its foundation, Ashbourne was a small village. That all changed in 1970, when the first housing estate was built to accommodate some of the overspill from Dublin. Since then the village of 400 people has multiplied many times in size – the town was home to almost 13,000 at the last census.

Today, the town is still centred around a cluster of original 19th-century buildings on Frederick Street, with a new commercial centre spreading onto Killegland Street. Housing estates surround the centre, which was a traffic bottleneck until the bypass was built in 2006.

Take me there! OK, here you are on Frederick Street.

So what’s the big draw? Good road links, proximity to Dublin, strong amenities, and relatively affordable housing. That enough for you?

Ashbourne is a new (in Irish terms, anyway) and growing town. It has a youthful and diverse population, and the energy that brings. And it’s well supplied with the basics for family life: supermarkets, sports facilities, cinema… and Tayto Park, of course.

What do people love about it? The diversity, says lifelong resident John Dollard – who welcomes the town’s expansion in recent decades.

Not only is Ashbourne full of blow-ins from Dublin, but also from all over the world. Growing up and going to school I was surrounded with people from all over the world, many of who became, and are still, my very good friends. I think I learned a lot from this exposure to people with different cultures from our own.While the area is still missing a number of facilities, I think overall the town has grown with the population, we’ve had the development of numerous retail parks, the upgrading of our community centre and in the last 4 years alone we’ve gone from 3 primary schools to 5 and added a second secondary school to the town.

And… what do people NOT love about it? Public transport is a key part of many residents’ lives – but the service can sometimes be wanting, says John.

Many here rely on easy and efficient access to Dublin City and its surrounds for employment and third level schooling etc. Having never had a train link, our only public transport option is bus but the service can often leave people late for work etc. A quality service would really improve many residents’ daily lives.

What’s the story with house prices? The average asking price for a property in Ashbourne is €249,404, according to data collected by Daft.ie during the first three months of 2018. That’s significantly less than the equivalent figure for other Meath commuter towns – Dunshaughlin’s average is €339,494 and Dunboyne, closer to the capital, is €354,476.

How long will it take me into Dublin? Ashbourne is right on the N2, a primary route into the capital and access point for the M50. If you’re heading into town, it’s about a 40-minute drive during the day. In the mornings, it can be up to an hour on the road.

The 103 bus is scheduled to take just over half an hour into Dublin city centre, and runs every 20 minutes at peak times.

Where should I get lunch? If you’re looking for a serious lunchtime feed, La Bucca is a long-serving local Italian that is famed for its chicken wings (once voted the best in Ireland).

#Wings #Food #PeriPeri #Love #Dinner

A post shared by Kim (@kim_o_leary) on

Alternatives: Cinnamon Garden is a contemporary Indian restaurant that comes highly recommended by locals. For a good old-fashioned sandwich, possibly involving coleslaw, look no further than The Deli Store.

And what’s my new local? Kelly’s on the main street is a much-loved local with an excellent beer garden.

#guinness #ireland #sunnyday

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Alternatives: The Fox’s Den draws an older crowd and has pool tables. Or if you’re willing to head out of town a little way, the Snailbox is more of a gastropub (and a hotel too).

Schools and supermarkets? Ashbourne is nothing if not well supplied with supermarkets. A Tesco Superstore, a Dunnes, a SuperValu, a Lidl and an Aldi are all within a few hundred yards of each other in the centre.

There are five primary schools: Scoil Mhuire (Catholic, mixed, 493 pupils); Ashbourne Educate Together (multidenominational, mixed, 294 pupils); Gaelscoil na Mí (multidenominational, mixed, 195 pupils); St Declan’s (Catholic, mixed, 680 pupils); and Gaelscoil na Cille (Catholic, mixed, 244 pupils).

There are two secondary schools: Ashbourne Community School (interdenominational, mixed, 1072 pupils); and De Lacy College (multidenominational, mixed, 182 pupils).

Anything else I should check out? The Rath Cross, an unusual-looking monument just to the north of the town, was built to commemorate the Battle of Ashbourne in 1916. A force of largely untrained volunteers fought an extended battle with RIC troops – eventually emerging victorious (in what has been called “one of the only successful rebellions in the country”), but surrendering only a couple of days later.

OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Ashbourne trivia to impress a local. “I haven’t seen a crowd this big in Ashbourne since Johnny Logan came home after winning the Eurovision.”

The above words were apparently uttered by a bystander at the unveiling of a statue of legendary racehorse Arkle in 2014. Eurovision legend Johnny Logan grew up here, and is a local hero (as well as a national one, obviously). He’s active in town events – here he is in full leather jacket for a launch at the local Domino’s.

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

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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