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Your guide to Grangegorman: Historic area centred on an impressive new campus

An old area that is coming to life (again).

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.

GRANGEGORMAN IS AN old neighbourhood with a chequered history. Used as an orchard by church authorities in the Middle Ages, it was later home to Ireland’s first psychiatric hospital – then known as the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, later St Brendan’s.

The architecture of the area is still dominated by large institutions – there was also a notorious House of Industry, a workhouse where the poor were held in terrible conditions, and a prison from which thousands of women and children were transported to Tasmania. But today they are being sensitively redeveloped into an acclaimed new campus for TU Dublin, with acres of green space surrounded by the area’s redbrick houses and a number of new student developments.

Sitting between Phibsboro, Stoneybatter and Smithfield, Grangegorman hasn’t received the same publicity as some of its neighbours in recent years. But the arrival of the Luas and the new campus are quickly changing that, with plenty more construction still to come. 

Take me there! OK, here you are at the north end of Grangegorman, looking down Rathdown Road towards the university campus.

So what’s the big draw? After years as a kind of backwater between bustling Phibsboro and Stoneybatter, dotted with unused buildings, Grangegorman is now coming back to life in a big way. The opening of the green line Luas extension brings it even closer to the city centre, and the campus adds green space and amenities (the best kids’ playground in the area for a start). It’s a historic neighbourhood that is getting a new face.

What do people love about it? It’s a hidden gem, says local Hazel. 

I love that you are sandwiched between Stoneybatter and Phibsboro, so you get the best of both worlds – all the amenities of Phibsboro with the village feel of Stoneybatter. The campus has been a lovely addition to the area and is really beautiful. Even with the college, and new student accommodation it’s still very quiet in the evenings. All of our neighbours are all really friendly, and there is a lovely community feel. You’re within walking distance of the city, and the new Luas has also been hugely beneficial. The area has lots of personality. 

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And… what do people NOT love about it? There are some concerns about the scale of student accommodation that is planned, says Hazel. 

At present, the new college campus hasn’t greatly affected the area negatively – but I’m conscious that this could change in the coming years with the addition of more purpose built student accommodation.

The Luas stop in Grangegorman, though a great amenity, has a very secluded entrance meaning that I would avoid it late at night in favour of the better-lit Phibsboro stop if I’m on my own.

What’s the story with house prices? Grangegorman is a neighbourhood that’s still being shaped, so Daft.ie doesn’t track prices for this area alone. But it’s easy to get a sense from neighbouring areas – it’s on the dividing line between Phibsboro, where the average asking price is €405,174, and Stoneybatter where the equivalent figure is €372,404.

All of these areas have seen stratospheric increases in recent years, with prices more than doubling since the recession.

How long will it take me to the city centre? A hop, skip and a jump. You are 15 minutes from the north city centre on foot, or 10 on the Luas. 

In terms of buses, the 46A runs along the northern end of the neighbourhood with the 37 and 39/A serving the Stoneybatter side. 

Where should I get lunch? Depends which direction you want to go in. In Stoneybatter, try Slice for a lunchtime bite. 

Alternatives: Over on the Phibsboro Road, the Back Page does great pizza (you can also get them delivered). Or wander down into Smithfield for even more options. 

And what’s my new local? The Barbers, which opened just a couple of years ago (it was previously The Orchard) but has already staked out a reputation as a place for quiet drinks and catch-ups. They also have regular live music. “Paddy Casey and Damien Dempsey have been known to pop in for a sing song every now and then,” says Hazel. 

And yes, you can get your hair cut there too. 

Alternatives: Again, pick your direction. Head down to Bonobo or the Cobblestone in Smithfield, or try Walsh’s and the Belfry in Stoneybatter.

Schools and supermarkets? A big new Lidl has just opened at the southern tip of Grangegorman on Brunswick Street. There’s also a Tesco on Prussia Street, and yet another Lidl at Hanlon’s Corner.

There are three primary schools in Grangegorman: D7 Educate Together (multidenominational, mixed, 465 pupils); Brunner Primary (Catholic, boys, 164 pupils); and Stanhope Street (Catholic, girls / mixed for younger classes, 347 pupils).

The secondary schools are Stanhope Street (Catholic, girls, 181 pupils) and the Brunner (Catholic, boys, 226 pupils). 

OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Grangegorman trivia to impress a local. Part of Grangegorman’s colourful (to say the least) history is the story of Billy In The Bowl, also known as the Stoneybatter Strangler. Billy was born without legs, but he travelled in a large metal bowl which he pushed along with his arms. He would appeal to ladies for help, then attack and rob them. Read the full, fairly horrible story here

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

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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