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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 21 October, 2019
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Your guide to Navan: A Royal good time in the childhood home of James Bond

And a town whose name you can read in both directions.

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. 

NAVAN IS ONE of the largest towns in Ireland. In terms of population, it sits alongside Swords, Bray and Drogheda as the biggest settlements in the Dublin commuter belt. More people live here than in the city of Kilkenny. 

Founded in Norman times where the Blackwater meets the Boyne, its name is thought to come from the Irish ‘an Uamhiann’, meaning caves. It remained a modest sort of place for 900 years or so. James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, who grew up in Navan in the 1950s, has described it as “a very small town” – a description which wouldn’t fit today.

Over the last 30 years, a lot has changed. As recently as 1991, just three and a half thousand people lived in Navan. Now the total is more than 30,000 – many of them commuters to Dublin which is an hour or so away. 

Take me there! Absolutely. Here you are on Market Square in the middle of town.

So what’s the big draw? Navan is a good-sized town with the amenities of a regional hub – a sizeable shopping centre, cinema, swimming pool and strong sports clubs. It’s an hour from Dublin (on a good day) and closer to the airport. It also has beautiful landscapes on its doorstep, the Boyne valley and Tara among them. 

A major investment plan, Navan 2030, is currently under way – and will bring significant changes to the town centre which aim to make it a better place for pedestrians.

What do people love about it? The community feel in the housing estates, says one resident of The Priory estate:

The sense of community, everyone helping each other out and looking out for each other.

Diversity, adds another Priory resident:

Navan is a wonderfully diverse community of the old and new. As its geographical span is only approx five square kilometres, our kids are growing up with a truly  multicultural view of the world as we have thriving communities of non-nationals living, working and contributing to our town.

The location, says a resident of Bailis Manor:

It is ‘an hour’ from Dublin and half hour to the coast/sea which I love. There are some decent shopping facilities and we are also close to other outlets in Blanchardstown, Liffey Valley and Drogheda. Dalgan [Park], Tara and Trim are close by for walking. 

And… what do people NOT love about it? The traffic, says the Bailis Manor resident:

Traffic problems would be a major issue for me personally. You can feel trapped – having to leave earlier for work just to get out before the school rush. Building all these houses without facilities is leading to antisocial behaviour among teenagers. Relatively lucky where I am as it’s a relatively small estate so we know the ‘cut’ of everyone. 

A Priory resident takes a more positive view:

Whilst it is recognised that some areas do have social issues such as lack of infrastructure and resources, that is to be expected in a town that has doubled its population size in the last 20 years. 

While another agrees that the roads (and their occupants) can be problematic:

Speeding cars. I get very angry seeing people driving in here like they’re on a motorway. 

What’s the story with house prices? The average asking price of a property in Navan is just over €240,000 according to Daft.ie. That’s at the lower end for Meath – homes in towns closer to Dublin like Ashbourne and Dunshaughlin tend to command higher prices. But it’s in line with other commuter towns at a similar distance, such as Drogheda (€214k) and Newbridge (€248k). 

How long will it take me to Dublin? On a good day, at the right time, it’s a 45-minute drive into the city – but needless to say that figure can be extremely elastic at rush hour.

There are several bus services including the NX Navan Express and the 109 – both run by Bus Eireann and taking around an hour – and a service run by Sillan. And there’s a small park and ride facility for the train at Dunboyne. (There have been plans for more than a decade to reinstate the railway all the way to Navan, but these are currently ‘deferred’.)

Where should I get lunch? Try Room8, a casual spot on Watergate Street which serves salads and sizeable sambos. 

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Superfood salad m8. #lunchdate #room8

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Alternatives: Look into The CoffeeMine for coffee and cake, or for Indian food Gaylord Spices is a local favourite.

And what’s my new local? Have a look at Bermingham’s, an old-school pub with live music and an extensive gin selection. 

Alternatives: Ryan’s is a big place with a cocktail bar and a sizeable outdoor area, or The Royal is another option with lots of space. 

Schools and supermarkets? There’s a Dunnes, a Tesco Superstore and an Aldi in the town centre, with a Lidl and two SuperValus slightly outside it. Is that the full house?

Navan is served by no fewer than 11 primary schools including Catholic, Church of Ireland and multidenominational options. There is also a Gaelscoil

There are five post-primary schools: St Patrick’s (Catholic, boys); St Joseph’s (Catholic, girls); Beaufort College (interdenominational, mixed); Loreto (Catholic, girls); and Coláiste na Mí (multidenominational, mixed). 

OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Navan trivia to impress a local. Navan is a member of a select club: there are only a few hundred places around the world with names that are palindromic (ie that read the same backwards as forwards). Among its five-letter palindrome comrades are Kahak in Iran, Parap in Australia and Apopa in El Salvador. 

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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