The bustling Dublin suburb you have never heard of

Pelletstown is to get a train station. Yet the area is so obscure even locals barely use its name

It was welcome news to some this week that Pelletstown in Dublin was to get a train station, a piece of infrastructure first promised 20 years ago. It was probably news to many others that somewhere in Dublin there was a place called Pelletstown.

“I give taxi drivers the address, and they look at me, so I tell them it’s the secret apartments just after Broombridge,” says Amie Heary who runs AP Fashion Nails & Beauty on Pelletstown Avenue.

She’s been running the salon for about 18 months. “I had an established business in Finglas but I wanted to expand and the rent wasn’t affordable, so I decided to take a chance here.”

The risk has paid off, she says.


“We’re fully booked all the time, there are 10 of us working here, we had a clientele that we brought with us, but I didn’t expect the place would get so big here.”

It’s not the only business to find a thriving market on its doorstep.

“I came here five years ago to what was at that time an empty, but purpose built, crèche building,” says Bernie Hill who owns Queen B’s crèche.

“It was very quiet to start with, we had three children, but it took off very quickly, we now have more than 60 children and 13 staff here and we’re booked out.”

Such is the demand that she’s about to open another crèche in Pelletstown.

"I already have a creche in Blanchardstown, so I'd no intentions of opening a third one, but I had parents coming into me every day in a panic and I already had a waiting list. There was another purpose-built crèche building just down the road, so we'll open there in the next couple of weeks."

The demand for childcare has been astonishing, she says. “I knew there’d be a growing population, but I didn’t bank on the speed it would grow at, I have women coming in here only two or three months pregnant wanting to put a deposit down. The phone never stops.”

This busy, bustling suburb remains unknown to most, but then 20 years ago it didn’t really exist.

‘Filling out nicely’

In the late 1990s Dublin City Council rezoned approximately 100 acres of farmland in the townland of Pelletstown, sandwiched between the Royal Canal and the Tolka River to the northwest of Cabra, for housing. Two years later the council published a plan for the construction of about 4,000 houses and apartments. Construction began shortly afterwards with the first homes finished in late 2003 and early 2004.

More than 1,500 homes, mostly apartments, had been built before the property crash hit and development dried up.

In May 2014, the Government allowed local authorities to relax residential density guidelines in certain areas seen as having the greatest potential to provide new homes.

Pelletstown, just 4km from the city centre, was one of the sites chosen where developers would be allowed to revert to building more houses than previously. The plan worked, according to city planner John O’Hara.

“We are happy with the progress that’s been made in Pelletstown. Everywhere stalled during the crash obviously, but Pelletstown is now filling out nicely. It’s around two thirds to three quarters complete at this stage. When it’s finished there will be about 3,500 homes for a population of 8,500, and around 3,000 of those have had planning permitted at this stage.”

Despite allowing more housing construction, the area will remain relatively high density, O’Hara says, given the high proportion of apartments built before the crash.

“There is a fair mix of traditional two-storey houses and four- or five-storey apartments, but we would have no objection if [developers] wanted to increase densities again near the rail line.”

The council is “extremely happy” that work is due to start next year on the new station, O’Hara says. “There are great amenities here – there’s the rail line, the Luas at Broombridge, the new station coming, it’s beside Tolka Valley Park, it’s on the Grand Canal. These are the things that contribute to good urban planning.”

Good planning is reflected in a vibrant community, he says, established and settled beyond its years.

“The community seems to be settling in well. We’ve had no complaints or concerns raised about the way the apartments are being operated. It is a good advertisement for high-density living. It’s early days still, but we hope Pelletstown will be completed in the next couple of years.”

School provision

Local resident and secretary of the Royal Canal Park Community Association, David Rouse says the residents have put a lot of effort into ensuring Pelletstown works as planned.

“There are a lot of positives here, and the new station is a big one, but there are a couple of things holding the place back, school provision being the main one.”

The Pelletstown Educate Together National School, the suburb’s only school, is housed in developer Castlethorn’s former marketing suite, which Rouse says is a step up from where it was originally, on the lower floor of the community centre. “It was practically in an underground bunker for the first few months.”

Another issue of concern is who looks after the roads in the estates.

“When a development is complete there’s a process called taking in charge, where the council takes over responsibility for the road, but because the developer hasn’t finished, that hasn’t happened yet, so a lot of the roads wouldn’t be in great shape.”

And while the new station, which is to be accompanied by more frequent services with the planned electrification of the Maynooth line, is an obvious bonus to the community, the level crossing at the Ashtown station at the west end of Pelletstown at is already causing traffic snarl-ups.

“The Reilly’s Bridge overpass that was built four years ago [at the east end] is fantastic, but we need something similar at the Ashtown end because there will be increased level crossing closures if the frequency is increased.”

School and transport issues aside, he says the place is developing as the community, in general, would like. “An Aldi is opening soon, and shops have pretty much kept pace with the housing development. There’s the canal on one side, Tolka Valley Park on the other, great amenities, all reasonably well maintained.”

Sense of community

While the area is progressing well, as the name of community association indicates, not even residents are convinced they live in Pelletstown.

“No one really uses the name Pelletstown. They refer to it as Ashtown, or Royal Canal Park, or Rathborne,” Rouse says.

Over at the school/marketing suite, principal Caitríona Ní Cheallaigh is preparing for the new year.

“We started in September 2015 with just 45 junior infants. Now we’re up to second class and we have 213. All our pupils are from the area, but we are over-subscribed with long waiting lists for junior and senior infants.”

The staff, the pupils and their families have made the building into a school rather the marketing suite, but there are still elements it lacks, she says.

“We don’t have enough support rooms for special education or [English as an additional language], and we don’t have a multi-purpose hall, so PE has to be outside, which makes it weather-dependent.”

The Department of Education is at the architectural planning stage of a new permanent building for the school, she says. “We’d be hopeful of being in there in September 2019, but 2020 might be more realistic.”

The provision of a permanent school building will be a major step for Pelletstown, she says. “The new school will be right in the middle of Pelletstown, putting us in the heart of the community. And there is already a great sense of community here. It’s more like a small country town than a Dublin suburb.