Priced out of Malahide? Switch to Swords

Swords began to fly as a suburb with the building of Dublin Airport in the 1940s

Swords was founded by St Colmcille in 560. The saint called the north Co Dublin town Sord, meaning clear, and in this sense pure of faith or pure water – referring to a communal drinking well located just off Main Street.

The name stuck and was anglicised to Swords.

The heart of the town has a common urban plan dictated by old Christian-style settlements, with the medieval castle the focus, from which the main street runs north to south, and continues to form the main thoroughfare to this day.

It would be be centuries before Swords began to expand in earnest, in the second half of the 20th century. The opening of Dublin Airport nearby, at Collinstown, in the 1940s, created a need for housing, and in the following decade the Seatown Villas, Longlands and St Columba's estates were built.

Waves of expansion continued through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as Swords continued to draw buyers with its location, just north of the airport and south of the affluent town of Malahide. Swords has also become an important shopping district, with the arrival of Pavilions Shopping Centre and Airside Retail Park.

In 1994 Swords was named county town for Fingal. At the time it had an ever-swelling population of 43,000; Fingal County Council envisions the town growing to 100,000 people by 2035.

"The majority of buyers in Swords are locals who have grown up in or are returning to the area. We also have a lot of buyers coming in from Malahide or Portmarnock, who are looking to buy in Swords for a first home, probably with aspirations to try to get back that way," says Eoghan Keenan, Sherry FitzGerald's Swords branch manager.

"Typically, a Malahide buyer is now looking to buy in Swords for 10-15 years, have a couple of kids, get settled, get some equity, and then maybe make the trade back to Malahide," says David Quirke, Flynn & Associates' Swords director. "Swords' convenience and proximity to the airport is also a big draw."

Getting there

The M1 is the main artery into the city; off peak, the drive to O'Connell Bridge, in the centre of Dublin, takes 30 minutes. The Swords Express coach service is a vital link for the town, shuttling people into the city in between 40 and 60 minutes. The planned MetroLink will see stops at Swords Estuary (with a park-and-ride), Seatown, Swords Central and Fosterstown, before running underground from the airport into the city.

What’s the housing like?

Swords is largely a low-rise town, with swathes of housing estates growing out from the historical centre. Most of these are made up of three- and four-bedroom semis, with smaller terraced homes dating from the mid-20th century. At the top of the market, the more rural western side of the town has a number of detached properties available, often with grounds.

Apartment building has been going on since the 1990s, and mostly caters for first-time buyers and investors. The apartments at locations such as Applewood, Holywell and Boroimhe form the entry point to the local housing market. From there the step up is to two- and three-bed terraced housing, mixed in with some 1980s and 1990s three-bed, one-bath homes, such as those at River Valley, which are still proving hugely popular because of their private driveways.

The entry point to the market is €120,000, which will get you a one-bed apartment. A jump in price to €185,000-€190,000 will buy a two-bed apartment at Holywell, Walton Hall or the Crescent. Terraced homes start at about €220,000, at locations such as 24 St Cronan's Grove. Terraced homes and larger apartments cater for the market right up to the €300,000 region.

From there, semi-detached homes become available at locations such as Glasmore Park, Kettles Lane and Ashton Avenue. Up to €350,000, there is a semi-detached three-bed in the desirable Boroimhe. Or, for just shy of €400,000, there is a three-bed, three-bath at 58 Brides Glen Park. A semi-detached at Ridgewood is for sale at €465,000. Towards the upper end of the market, a dormer bungalow goes for €550,000 at Deanstown and a five-bed detached at Highfield Crescent goes for €580,000.

Any new developments?

Millers Glen is a scheme being sold by Sherry FitzGerald, at the northwestern end of town. A new phase of three-, four- and five-bedroom homes will be on offer in the autumn.

Ashfield comprises 173 new-builds, ranging right through two-, three-, four- and five-beds, and is being sold by Morton & Flanagan.

Mooretown, also to be sold in the autumn, brings 125 three-, four- and five-bed homes to the market, sold by Knight Frank.

Cnoc Dubh in Ballyboughal, just to the northwest of Swords's traditional border, will be coming to the market in September, with 57 two-, three-, four- and five-bed semis, bungalows and detached homes 57 being sold by Flynn & Associates.

Hooke & McDonald is selling one-, two- and three-bed apartments at Waterside, just east of the M1.

Schools and colleges

The twin towers of education in Swords remain Coláiste Choilm CBS and Loreto College Swords, while in the Applewood area, two Educate Together schools and a Gaelscoil are recent builds.

Village life

The main street is a busy one, with a very high occupancy rate and a number of good restaurants and bars, including Masterson's Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Fingal County Council plans to develop a cultural quarter around the castle, containing a civic centre, a library and a central public space.