Hotspots: Life’s a beach in Donabate

This seaside village is not only a haven for golfers and nature lovers, but is less pricey than other coastal areas


Why now? Donabate is a village of some 5,500 people about 14 miles north of Dublin city centre. Through its rail link it has good connectivity with journey time to the city centre just 30 minutes. Its village vibe and community spirit is attracting families. It’s in expansive mode with a new primary and secondary school having opened in the past few years. It has a vibrant village and village green and not much by way of sprawling Celtic Tiger development.

“While we’re surrounded by nature there isn’t a lot of development potential, explains estate agent Douglas Robertson. “We are blessed that Newbridge Demesne accounts for about 1,000 acres of local land, that more land is taken up by the five golf courses we have within a five-mile area and that vast tracts of green space around Rogerstown Estuary and Broadmeadow Estuary are designated special areas of conservation.”

This is good news for anyone looking for a seaside location but not wanting to cut their city apron strings.

What residents say: “Donabate is close to Malahide and Howth but doesn’t have the premium prices of those areas,” says James Skehan, who has lived in the village for 17 years and is now downsizing from his five-bedroom house in Beaverbrook, an estate of detached homes.

He sold his house to Linus Russell and bought Linus’s four-bedroom semi-d in Somerton, a family orientated estate that was built 13 years ago.

Skehan discovered Donabate through his love of golf. He is a member of Beaverstown Golf Club, which is right beside his home, and he plays twice a week.

At this time of the year Susan Brown, who runs Susan E Brown Chartered Accountants and who grew up in the area, takes her children, Alex, age four, and Eva, age six, there to hunt for conkers.

They also spend a lot of free time on Balcarrick Beach rock-pooling, searching the caves at low tide for “treasure” and birdwatching on the nature reserves.

She moved back into the area with her husband, Peter Murphy, a Kerryman who loved its proximity to town and the fact they were surrounded by nature.

Amenities There are two Blue Flag beaches: Balcarrick in Donabate is a 3km stretch of golden sand that is a 20-minute walk from the train station, and Portrane, a 2km shell-filled crescent is three miles from Donabate.

Newbridge House is great for walks and its pet farm is a big draw for small kids. The Georgian mansion was used as a location for the 1965 film The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. In 2009, a previously unrecognised rare portrait of William Shakespeare was found hanging in the house’s drawing room.

Kids adore the 18th-century working farm and state-of-the-art adventure playground, and there are acres of tree-filled grounds to explore. You can also enjoy afternoon tea in the Courtyard Tearooms.

The five golf courses located nearby include The Island, which was ranked number 14 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Irish Golf Courses 2013. The other clubs are Beaverstown Golf Club; Donabate Golf Club; Balcarrick Golf Club and Corballis Links Golf Club, a public links course beside the sea.

The town has two soccer clubs, St Ita’s AFC and Portrane Athletic, and St Patrick’s has a strong GAA presence.

There is plenty of bird- and wildlife-watching at Rogerstown Estuary and Broadmeadow Estuary, both special areas of conservation.

At certain times of the year there are hides that are wardened at weekends by the Fingal branch of Birdwatch Ireland in Rogerstown.

The facilities at Donabate Portrane Community and Leisure Centre include a sports hall, gym, fitness studios, an Astroturf pitch (currently out of commission).

Where can you go out? Italian restaurant Pasta Costello in the town centre, Chungs Chinese in Ballisk Court are two places to eat. Keelings Bar has a snug, traditional music sessions on Thursdays and a DJ at weekends in its Dome lounge.

The Waterside Hotel overlooks the beach and its Sapphire restaurant is well attended by locals. You can take afternoon tea in Newbridge House. Piper’s fish and chip shop in Portrane is a must.

For gourmands Malahide is just one stop away by train. Its smorgasbord of restaurants includes Nautilis and the Michelin-starred Bon Apetit, while there is fine ethnic food to be had at Silks Chinese and Kajjal Pakistani.

Transport Malahide is a three-minute journey on the suburban train line. Dublin city centre is just four stops and a 30-minute commute by train. Swords Pavilions Shopping Centre is a five-minute drive. Dublin airport is a seven-minute drive.

The 33B bus service travels from Swords via Newbridge House and Donabate to Portrane. Because of the strong rail links, there is just one bus at 4.50am from Donabate to Dublin city centre.

At peak times, traffic in the village can be very heavy, Brown says. “There is only one road in and one road out so there can be congestion at certain times of the day.”
Schools St Patrick’s Girls’ National School and St Patrick’s Boys’ National School are beside each other. In 2008, the village got its a third primary school, an Educate Together school. All are within walking distance of the village. Donabate Community College, a secondary school, opened the same year.

It’s not yet listed in the 2012 Irish Times school league tables (the 2013 league tables will be published in November). Schools that are included are Skerries Community School, a co-ed establishment, where 82 per cent of students went on to third-level education.

Similarly, 82 per cent of girls attending Loreto Balbriggan went on to third level. Seventy three per cent of students at Portmarnock Community School went on to college courses.

Where to buy Donabate is one of the few places you can buy an affordable site with sea views within the greater Dublin area. One at Balcarrick with full planning permission for a 325sq m (3,500sq ft) house is for sale through Robertson Estates for €145,000.

Somerton is a family-friendly estate of four-bedroom semis built about 13 years ago. Prices start at €270,000.

Beaverbrook is an estate of five- bedroom detached homes on the edge of Beaverstown Golf Club. Entry-level apartments for first-time buyers start at €75,000 for a one-bedroom apartment.


Caverstone, The Island
DNG McKenna Healy, ¤595,000
A fine, four-bedroom detached property, this 148sq m (1,600sq ft) house has a super slick interior, a south by south-west facing garden and a sense of splendid isolation boasting views across Broadmeadow Estuary and The Island Golf Club. 
12 Beverton Close
Robertson Estates, ¤245,000
This three-bedroom semi of 106sq m (1,150sq ft) is situated in a quiet cul-de-sac and just a five-minute walk from the village and train station. It has a north-facing lawned back garden and needs a small upgrade. Currently, the third bedroom is being used as a walk-in wardrobe. 
26 The Spires 
Sherry FitzGerald Blanc, ¤420,000
This is a four-bedroom detached house of 172sq m (1,860 sq ft) with a detached garage and an average-sized back garden that faces north. 
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