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First-time buyers put Bray, Finglas and Navan on the map

In the second of our Bank of Ireland Neighbourhoods series Bray, Finglas and Navan take centre stage as increasingly popular first-time buyer destinations

Statistics on recent buying patterns of first-time buyers have shown that the neighbourhoods in which people are choosing to buy are shifting. In this series we are looking more closely at neighbourhoods that have moved up the popularity stakes to see just what is attracting first-time buyers.

In this instalment we focus on Bray, Co Wicklow, Finglas in Dublin 11 and Navan in Co Meath.

Read our first instalment covering Tallaght, Swords and Drogheda.


Bray is the second-most popular location for first-time buyers outside Dublin. A town with a number of famous residents including musician Sinead O’Connor and Olympic boxing gold medallist Katie Taylor, Bray boasts a stunning location, which has proximity to the coast, the rural parts of north Co Wicklow and of course Dublin city centre. Its location relative to all three has been key to the growth in its popularity over the last number of years.

"The main selling point of the area is that it's in the commuter belt to Dublin," says JJ Keyes, head of Bank of Ireland, Co Wicklow. "You can work in the city, socialise in the city, but get the Dart back home in the evening. You also have the coastline and the beach, as well as all the rural beauty of Co Wicklow to the south.

“So from a lifestyle perspective you have that mix of city and rural and a more relaxed lifestyle. With the N11 you can drive down through the lovely towns of Greystones and Brittas Bay and as far as Wexford in your free time.”

As Dublin continues to rise in price for first-time buyers, Bray offers a location that is literally on the border of the two Leinster counties, at a price that is far more affordable than most locations in south Dublin, while also offering a wide variety of facilities for residents.

“Bray has all the amenities of a local town, but it’s also within striking distance of the centre, so you can get in there very quickly,” says Keyes.

“The town also has a huge number of facilities to offer residents. We have the Bray Emmetts GAA Club and Greystones Rugby Club is nearby.

“I work across Wicklow and Wexford. If you mix between the two counties, in excess of 50 per cent of the population are under 45 years old. That makes a huge difference in terms of family growth and has been a huge development. Essentially, Bray is young and it’s vibrant and that makes it very attractive to potential buyers.”

A mix of lifestyle, location and jobs is a solid trio of attractions for a potential property purchaser and Bray ticks all of those boxes.

“The seafront also has a lovely selection of bars and restaurants and there is the Bray Summerfest that sells the town. 150,000 people attend the festival over a two-week period, which culminates with the Bray Air Display,” says Keyes.

“You also have the Southern Cross Industrial Estate, which has a number of businesses and jobs. You also have Ardmore Studios and Ashford Studios.

“I know a lot of people with families in the town and they love to get out into the Wicklow hills over the weekend. To be able to do that is a huge attraction that you just can’t get in the city.”


Bray lies just across the county border from Dublin on the Wicklow side, with a distance of 20km to Dublin city centre, and a population of just over 30,000, making it the 14th largest urban area on the island of Ireland.

As well as being a residential area, Bray also attracts a large number of tourists to enjoy its coastline and to climb Bray Head, which gives great views out over Dublin city, and rural Wicklow.

The town is known for its support of the arts with the Mermaid Arts Centre being the best known venue.  A new shopping and cinema complex is planned and Bray has its own business centre on the southern side of the town.

The proximity to Dublin means that Bray is served superbly by public transport, with public buses, Dart and trains running to Dublin city centre and beyond, while it’s also connected by motorway via the M11 and the M50.

Bray also has a busy town centre with a healthy retail sector that includes outlets covering grocery, sports stores, jewellers and books.


10 Clover Hill, Bray, Co Wicklow: Three beds, semi-detached for €325,000

14 Vevay Crescent, Bray, Co Wicklow: Three beds, terraced for €399,000

15 Father Colahan Terrace, Bray, Co Wicklow: Four beds, terraced for €460,000


The northside of Dublin has many sought-after locations: Howth, Sutton, Malahide, Clontarf, Drumcondra and Glasnevin which are usually near the top of the most-wanted lists, both for first-time buyers and also for those already on the property ladder. However, as the economy continues to strengthen, and property prices continue to hike, alternative areas of the capital are becoming the focus for first-time buyers.

Finglas is one of those areas that has seen a large increase in first-time buyer sales or homes being sale agreed, so much so that it was the fifth-most-popular location to buy in Dublin in 2016.

In the past, Finglas as an area had a reputation for being a less desirable location, but this has largely changed as new developments continue to spring up. Andrea O'Neill, Bank of Ireland head of mortgages for Dublin north, says that a growing sense of community has sparked a boom in sales in Finglas.

“There is a really good sense of community spirit in Finglas. Over the last ten years crime has reduced and now the area is like Coolock and Blanchardstown,” says O’Neill.

“They all pull together with summer fairs - everybody knows each other. And you have a great local atmosphere in Finglas village.”

This sense of community in Finglas, combined with the construction of a whole host of new property developments at affordable prices, have combined to make the town an up-and-coming location.

“They’ve built a whole host of new developments such as Hampton Wood, Lanesborough. On a salary of €40k, Finglas is really affordable,” says O’Neill. “If a professional wants to buy their own home, they can get a mortgage of €140k. If they don’t want to buy an apartment, and they want a house, they have to look at areas they may not have previously considered. And for that reason Finglas has got much more popular. You can get a three-bed house in Finglas for €160k.”

Finglas’ location is also popular in terms of proximity to businesses and jobs, both locally and also in Dublin city centre.

“Joe Duffy Motors is close by, also the Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital,” says O’Neill. The location is also on the road to the city centre. You can be in the centre on the bus in 15 minutes.”

Finglas has also been well served by facilities and this has only increased as with new housing developments have come new services, and of course the area is close to excellent facilities in adjoining neighbourhoods.

“Charlestown Shopping Centre is nearby. There are also a lot of schools and crèches,” says O’Neill. “Coláiste Íde is a popular college of further education; St Mary’s secondary school for girls is excellent.

“We also have a Ben Dunne Gym down the road in Northwood. And in terms of sports we have Na Fianna nearby and also Erin’s Isle CLG.”


Located on the north side of Dublin, Finglas lies in Dublin 11, in close proximity to both the city centre and also Dublin Airport. The town is also located near the M50, giving easy access to Dublin’s ring road, and also the N2, which leads to Ashbourne, County Meath.

The town was originally developed from an early Christian abbey. The modern development of the town began in earnest in 1950, when a number of new housing developments were established, in order to grow the local population.

In recent years, with the rise of the economy, Finglas has become one of the go-to destinations for those looking to gain a foothold on the property ladder. As well as offering excellent value for property sales, the location also offers a wide variety of amenities, including two shopping centres: Charlestown Shopping Centre and Clearwater Shopping Centre.

The town is also well served from a sporting perspective through Unidare Rugby Club and Erin’s Isle GAA Club. Soccer is extremely popular with clubs in the area or nearby including Tolka Rovers, Valley Park United, WFTA Football Club, Willows FC, Finglas Celtic and Beneavin FC.


59 Kildonan Avenue, Finglas, Dublin 11: two beds, terraced for €133,000

41 Rathvilly Park, Finglas, Dublin 11: three beds, terraced for €159,950


Navan was the sixth most-popular location for first-time buyers outside the capital in 2016. This Co Meath town has long had a vibrant community and town centre and the overall property price increase – most notably the increase in Dublin – has seen a growing number of young couples and families make the move to Navan to set up a starter home.

"In terms of the demographic it's quite a vibrant and young community, says Ingrid Halpin, Bank of Ireland head of Co Meath and Louth. "It's a particularly well-serviced location and given the significant shortage of housing in Dublin, the commute of around an hour is deemed reasonable for people to get into the city centre via the M3."

Those young families also gravitate to Navan due to its suitability for bringing up children, with a countryside location allied to a large number of schools in the town.

“There is a large selection of both primary and secondary schools,” says Halpin. “There’s St Joseph’s Mercy Primary School, Ard Ri Community National School and St Oliver Plunketts. On the secondary side you have the St Patrick’s Classical School, St Joseph’s Secondary and St Michael’s and Loreto Navan. The number of schools in close proximity to the town’s start-up homes is a key calling card for the town. We’re very much a community bank and we try to get out in the community to help locals to get that first home, which is a real marker in life.”

Meath in general has seen an upward curve in investment over the last four years and that has had a trickle down effect for employment and business in Navan, combined with its usually strong retail sector.

“Traditionally as a market town a lot of industry has built up around Navan. There’s also a strong retail presence,” says Halpin. “And you have Navan Hospital, which gives employment to the town. There’s also a lot of investment in the wider Meath area. Facebook have been given planning permission for their data centre in Clonee while Avoca are building one of their retail outlets in Dunboyne. Those openings have great employment opportunities, including for the skilled trades.

“The Navan Shopping Centre is also there and then there are pockets of small boutiques and restaurants.”

The other factor that has played into the popularity of Navan has been the fact that the town has an infrastructure that is already long established and with it a community, something that newer towns and developments around Ireland cannot make a claim to.

“The fact the town is well established as opposed to a new growing town is also more appealing to people, because people really appreciate having established services,” says Halpin. “There are also several new housing developments set to spring up this year, which reflects the growing demand in the town.”


Navan is set in the beautiful and rural location of Co Meath, at the confluence of the Rivers Blackwater and Boyne. Originally founded by the Normans, in the 20th century the town grew into a thriving urban centre.

Having undergone difficult times during the recession the town has shown good economic recovery in keeping with the financial upturn across Ireland.

Meath is a sports mad county and Navan is at the epicentre of that with a host of GAA teams in Walterstown GFC, Navan O’Mahonys GAA, Simonstown Gaels and Bective GFC. Navan is also the home of the Meath GAA team, who play at Páirc Tailteann. From a rugby perspective, AIL Club Navan RFC is located on the approach to the town from the Dublin side. The town also boasts cricket and athletics clubs.

There is also a strong art scene in the town, with the Solstice Arts Centre running exhibitions and cultural talks. Public art also has a strong presence in the town with The Bull sculpture by Colin Grehan in the main town square and the Fifth Province sculpture by Richard King on the Navan Bypass.

Navan Shopping Centre is an important retail hub, while the main street has a large selection of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, including the highly regarded Zucchini’s and The Central.


12 Tara Court Road, Navan, Co Meath: three beds, semi-detached for €190,000

9 Limekiln Hall, Dublin Road, Navan, Co Meath: six beds, detached for €335,000

Quarry Road, Ardbraccan, Navan , Co Meath: four beds, detached for €310,000