For those in search of a home, either to buy or rent, it is well worth remembering one of the golden rules of property: you are not just buying or renting a house, you are buying into a neighbourhood.
In some small pockets around the city and county – little squares and streets off the beaten track, where demand is high – agents have a waiting list of buyers wanting something a little more than the obvious. And it is often the more modest houses that share a sense of community, hugely important in a city with a population density of 11,880 per square mile.
The traditional list of Dublin’s most-desirable addresses follows the squares on the old version of the board game Monopoly, in which Ailesbury and Shrewsbury Roads take the top spots. But in real terms, Ranelagh and Rathmines are also high in demand, and addresses Dublin 7, 8 and 11 are just as sought after.
Though the larger and well-known Brighton and Westminster roads in Foxrock, and their high-end standalone houses are in high demand, the little development of The Hedgerows is hidden away behind electric gates. "One of the real benefits of the location" according to Rowena Quinn of Hunters, "is these properties back onto the sixth furlong of Leopardstown Racecourse and would be my dream buy."
The houses here are inverted, with the living accommodation upstairs, to allow the maximum benefit of the views to the Dublin Mountains over the racecourse in this quiet little cul-de-sac, which also has a communal garden for all residents. Hunters list number 1 in the development, a 100sq m (1,082sq ft) two-bedroom property with converted attic for €685,000.
For maritime enthusiasts, the cost of direct access to the sea would normally see house prices extend to the multiples of millions. At Maretimo Gardens in Blackrock, houses are less expensive than their counterparts in Monkstown, Glasthule and Sandycove with pieds dans l'eau (feet in the water). Ronan O'Hara of Sherry FitzGerald, says this of number 1 Maretimo Gardens East, a four-bedroom house extending to 148sq m (1,593sq ft). "Not only does this property have potential to extend (subject to planning) in the 75 foot terraced rear garden, and exceptional views, but having access to a private jetty and bathing area, is what makes this property truly unique." (€1.395m)
In nearby Monkstown, another option to live close to the sea is Trafalgar Lane, which are the former coach houses of the large period houses to the front on Trafalgar Terrace. Here, one can see residents donning their robes and heading down the road for their daily swim. Sherry FitzGerald have just listed a 2/3 bedroom property on Trafalgar Lane sale agreed for €555,000.
Devitt Villas in Glasthule is another popular seaside location in south Dublin. The 25 picture-perfect yellow brick houses dating from the 1930s ooze charm. Beirne & Wise has listed number 4, a two-bedroom unit, as Sale Agreed. The property was seeking €545,000.
In Dublin 14, Harriet Grant of Savills suggests Riverside Drive, which she describes as "being located in a very quiet pocket of roads and far closer to the city than a Rathfarnham address would suggest". Savills are listing number 56, at 150sq m (1,615sq ft) which has an 83 foot-long rear garden offering the potential for extension, subject to planning, at €775,000.
For Joe Beirne of Beirne & Wise, the allure of Sycamore Road in Mount Merrion is the fact that it "is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Mount Merrion, and the houses built in the 1930s, have very large gardens, so have potential to extend, but what makes it special is that it is not a through road, so it is very quiet yet very close to the N11. Prices fall on either side of a million depending on whether or not they need updating". Lisney has just listed number 3 as sale agreed; it was seeking €975,000.
Moving in closer to the city centre, Havelock Square is another highly sought-after area, hidden away off Bath Avenue in Dublin 4, and is popular due to its proximity to Grand Canal Dock and the city centre. The Aviva stadium, when lit at night, is dramatic, appearing like the mothership overlooking the picturesque square of 40 houses. Prices, though, have risen dramatically in recent years. In 2014, houses tended to sell for €500,000 whereas now prices for renovated units are exceeding the €800,000 mark, for the terraced villas in testament to the square's popularity.
Carlisle Avenue, one of the lesser-known squares in Dublin 4, which is equidistant from Ranelagh and Donnybrook. "It's like being in the country, as it is a completely hidden terrace and square and houses don't come up for sale that often" says Geralyn Byrne of Sherry FitzGerald. Stephen Day of Lisney agrees: "the original houses tend to be about 1,400sq ft. although some people have turned them into magnificent family homes. Parking can be a little congested, but the community and period detail makes up for it."
Only four properties appear to have sold on Carlisle Avenue since the Property Price Register began, with the most recent sale being number 15 which achieved €1.21m in 2017. It was originally seeking €975,000.
In the Portobello area, the streets of Ovoca, Emor, and Carlisle have a great sense of community according to Andrea Whelan of Sherry FitzGerald "where they have a party every summer, it's a 'pot-luck' get together of neighbours and maintains and builds a sense of community as does nearby St Kevin's, which also has a local Facebook community page. In fact most people we sell for and to are local, moving up and down but all within a one to two km radius." Recent sales on St Kevin's Road were numbers 26 and 33, which sold for €695,000 and €645,000 respectively.
In Dublin 8, Mountshannon Road in and Warrenmount Place in Blackpitts are lovely hidden gems close to the city, as is Rialto Cottages, where the sense of community is so great, residents have built a shared garden together, and hold keys to each other homes, in order to look after pets and anyone along the road who is ill. Rialto Cottages sell in the €200,000-€300,000 bracket depending on condition.
Deirdre O’Gara of DNG suggests Harold’s Cross Cottages as “having a real village feel within the city, with a community spirit and prices similar to those of city apartments.” O’Gara is selling number 79, a one-bedroom unit for €295,000.
In Crumlin, what has to be one of the prettiest estates is that of the highly sought after Iveagh Gardens. Constructed in 1926, by Lord Iveagh for workers at Guinness, this is one of the few housing estates to be listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, which describes the houses as being "testament to the skill and craftsmanship of brickwork in the early 20th century". Houses here achieve between €350,000-€500,000 depending on condition.
De Courcy Square just off Botanic Avenue in Glasnevin is "really one of the city's secrets" according to Adam Clarke of Lisney. The square has many distinguishing features, not least the allotment gardens at its centre. It's one of Dublin's last city allotments, dating from the first World War, and in 2007, the square became the city's first residential architectural conservation area (ACA).
Today the close-knit community living around the square grow all manner of fruits and vegetables in the central allotments, in addition to the residents using the area as a communal space for celebrations. Recent sales on the square have achieved between €480,000-€510,000 depending on size and condition.
Clarke also suggests nearby Prospect Square, St Teresa’s Road and St Teresa’s Place, where houses are also in high demand. “Every year for the Bloomsday festival, local characters dress up in Joycean attire and have tea on the communal grass area to the front of the houses on Prospect Square.”
Having one of Dublin’s oldest pubs, Kavanagh’s – colloquially known as the Gravediggers – where there is no television, radio or music, as it’s all about conversation, is an added bonus as so few areas in Dublin retain a real local anymore. Prices fall on either side of €500,000 depending on condition.
Though so many parts of Howth are pretty, and some are naturally hidden away due to the typography of the peninsula, Conor Gallagher of Gallagher Quigley suggests Dungriffin Villas for more affordable options in the picturesque fishing village along with Foxes Lane down the road in Raheny.
He also suggests Blessington Street and Royal Canal Bank in Phibsborough in Dublin 7. Within walking distance to the city centre, these old Georgian gems are almost all intact, despite many of them being laid out in flats or indeed empty.
The construction of the Royal Canal in the early part of the 19th century provided the impetus for the construction of some very fine period terraced houses in Phibsborough, as did the Blessington Street Basin, which is now home to what is considered to be Dublin’s secret garden.
The park, which takes up 0.75 hectares, is unusual in that it is 80 per cent water, and home to an abundance of water birds. In addition when it was revamped in 1993, a five-aside pitch, basketball court and The Bi – a local project on beehives was added – in conjunction with floral schemes and sculptures.
The houses on the basin end of Blessington Street are the most desirable and come under the Living City Living Initiative whereby the tax incentive allows owners of old city houses to claim relief for refurbishment at a rate of 10 per cent a year for 10 years. Though the tree-lined road, once an affluent street for the legal profession when it was constructed in the early 1800s is now a sad legacy of humble flats and vacant units, these houses do come to the market every now and then.
Considering how Smithfield has grown into a cool hipster place, with prices to boot, it is only a matter of time before this area of Phibsborough regains its former glory. O’Connor Shannon have number 23, Blessington Street, a three-storey late-Georgian property with a commercial unit at ground level, though in a complete state of disrepair if not dilapidation, listed for €325,000 and DNG are listing a three bedroom cottage on Royal Canal Bank for €395.000.