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The Liberties, Newbridge and Mullingar capture the imagination of first-time buyers

In the third of our Neighbourhoods series, in association with Bank of Ireland, we chart the changing landscape of where first-time buyers are calling home

In the third instalment of our Neighbourhoods series, we expand our focus to three more areas that are proving popular with first-time buyers across Ireland: this week we look at The Liberties in Dublin 8; Newbridge, County Kildare; and Mullingar, County Westmeath.


The Liberties has always been an area of Dublin that has been at the centre of discussion. Its history as an Anglo-Norman townland, united with the city, but under its own jurisdiction, is an apt metaphor for the area today. For while it’s very much part of Dublin city centre, it retains its own way of doing things. That “own way” is by combining the traditions of the past - the markets of Meath Street and the antique outlets of Francis Street, with the modern digital business growth of the city, with the Digital Hub playing host to a number of Irish and international companies. These factors, combined with a city centre location, make it one of the best-value areas to buy across the capital.

The regeneration that's going to happen in the area is going to be huge

“You’re looking at an area that now has a significant tech-sector industry,” says Barry Groarke, Bank of Ireland’s branch manager for St James’s Street. “The Digital Hub caters to over 100 companies. You also have Diageo and the Guinness Storehouse as well. The location of The Liberties in the city centre is also key to the growth of the area.


“The regeneration that’s going to happen in the area is going to be huge. The regeneration of the Iveagh Markets on Francis Street is going to be great for the area with a hotel and a series of restaurants planned.

“There’s a new whiskey distillery as well, which will have a €25m investment. People see the area as one that’s been neglected for a long time and that is now changing with the amount of investment that is coming in through the tech sector and micro-breweries.”

The proximity to the city centre, as well as the nearby St James’s Hospital, and also of course the international financial and tech hub that is the Docklands, has led to purchasers looking anew at the Liberties as a place to live with close proximity to all these employers, but also with a price range on properties that is far more affordable than surrounding areas such as Dublin 2 or 4.

“There’s St James’s Hospital which has 3,500 employees, which is huge for the area as well. It’s a great facility and a lot of the staff from the hospital are settling nearby,” says Groarke.

“I also run the Smithfield branch of Bank of Ireland and the growth that has happened over the last ten years there is beginning to happen in Dublin 8 now. If you look at the Docklands area, they have run out of space to build offices and residential properties, and Dublin 8 is taking advantage of that.”

The issue over the last number of years in the area has been a lack of living facilities, such as dining options, but along with the increase in residential property sales, a number of new service outlets have begun to open up.

“There’s a number of new coffee shops and gastropubs springing up like Legit on Meath Street and the Beer Market on High Street,” says Groarke. “Those type of facilities have changed the area and raised the standard of living dramatically. The new coffee shops are not just appealing to the residents but are also drawing people in from other parts of the city.”


The Liberties is located in the south-west section of Dublin city centre. Dating from the Anglo-Norman period of the 12th century, the town was connected to the city, but had its own jurisdiction. In the 17th century it became home to a large number of immigrating Huguenots who traded as weavers and built their own style of home with large gables at the front of the premises.

Today, the area is one of the most vibrant and bustling areas of the city. The traditional markets of old Dublin are still there, but they are intermingled with digital technology businesses and two of the county’s best coffee shops in French-run Legit on Meath Street and hipster’s paradise Two Pups on Francis Street.

The presence of the National College of Art and Design adds a creative element to the area, which is a continuation of the atmosphere of the antique quarter of Francis Street, the Cross Art Gallery and the nearby Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Music is also catered for by the live music venue The Tivoli and the Thomas House, which is famous for its punk, rock and reggae amalgamation.

There are also a number of cultural attractions in the area that include the Guinness Storehouse, Teeling’s Whiskey Distillery, St Patrick’s and Christchurch Cathedrals.


117 Cork Street, south city centre, Dublin 8: a two-bed apartment for €225,000

1 Tenterfields, south city centre, Dublin 8: two-bed, end-of-terrace house for €295,000

38 St Thomas Road, south city centre, Dublin 8: three-bed semi-detached for €375,000


The fifth most-popular first-time buyer location outside Dublin last year was Newbridge, which also makes it the most popular location in Co Kildare.

A town probably most-known for its association with jewellery company Newbridge Silverware, and the place where Irish rugby star Jamie Heaslip learnt his trade at Newbridge College, the town offers residents a local feel with a small town centre, but also gives direct access to Dublin, should one need to commute for work or pleasure.

There's a 30-minute rail service to Dublin, and a lot of residents commute in and out of the capital

"Newbridge is the highest-populated town in Kildare, with a population of 21,000 and high growth over the last six years," says Treasa O'Neill, Bank of Ireland head of branches for Kildare and Carlow. "The town attracts visitors for a lot of reasons, but the location is a real draw. There's a 30-minute rail service to Dublin, and a lot of residents commute in and out of the capital, but there's also a lot of employment in the town itself, including the head offices of Pfizer and Bord na Mona. With those companies there is a lot of industry in Newbridge as well. Its central location in Kildare - and also being on the N7 to Dublin - makes its location hard to beat."

With the opening of a new shopping centre in 2003, the town also has a focused retail centre to serve residents, meaning trips to Dublin aren’t always necessary.

“The arrival of Whitewater Shopping Centre has made Newbridge a really strong retail town,” says O’Neill.  “There's a wide range of high-street stores there, which makes the town more attractive for young couples.  A lot of those couples have jobs locally. A lot of towns around the country have retail industries that are suffering, but Newbridge is the opposite, with a lot going on in that sense. The fact Whitewater is in the centre of town pulls people into the centre and creates a great atmosphere.

“There’s lots of on-street parking as well around the centre, which other towns don’t have. And of course Newbridge Silverware is also central, and their visitor centre is doing extremely well. All of this combines to give a buzz to Newbridge.”

Sales are booming in the town, and in the country in general, and this has led to a number of new applications being granted, which are set to grow the area residentially.

“The popularity of the area means there will be new housing built to accommodate the demand. Just down the road in Naas there are five new developments,” says O’Neill. “And in the county plan I know there are plans to also build new housing in Newbridge, so the area is set to grow further in the coming years. Applications are currently in for a brand new development, which will have absolutely no problem selling, because demand is so high.


With a population of 21,000, Newbridge is the 15th biggest urban centre in the Republic of Ireland and the largest in Co Kildare.

The town grew up around the Great Cornell Abbey, which was founded in 1202, and became a residential centre in its own right in the 1300s, as six parishes emerged on the banks of the River Liffey.

The town became well known as a centre of industry, business and commerce with Bord na Mona, the Department of Defence and Lily O’Brien’s chocolates all based there, as well as the world-famous brands Newbridge Silverware and Pfizer.

Its location places it on the Dublin-Cork train line, making travel to both of the Republic’s biggest cities very accessible, while the M9 also connects Newbridge to Waterford by road.

As a retail centre the town is thriving, with the Whitewater Shopping Centre and brand names like Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and Easons all located in the town centre.

From an education perspective, the town is superbly serviced by seven secondary schools and five primary schools, including the fee-paying Newbridge College; there is also a branch of the VTOS adult education centre located there.

The Kildare GAA team are based in the town, and two local teams, Sarsfields and Moorefield, compete nationally. Rugby is served by Newbridge RFC and soccer is represented by Newbridge Town FC. For those who want to make the most of the open roads of rural Leinster, the town also has a cycling club.

The Tidy Towns silver medallist in 2013 and 2014 also boasts a wide array of arts opportunities including the Riverbank Arts Centre.


48 Millbridge Way, Mill Lane, Naas: three-bed, end-of-terrace house for €315,000

19 Barrettstown Lawns, Newbridge: four-bed, semi-detached house, two bathrooms for €240,000

25 Ramblers Court, Newbridge: three-bed apartment for €130,000


If you look a little further from Dublin than Newbridge, there is incredible value to be had in the more rural parts of Leinster. Mullingar represents one of those towns that offers excellent-quality housing at prices that are so competitive it is scarcely believable.

The Westmeath town’s value for money and location make it one of the most appealing places for those who want to purchase in a rural area and are not put off by a one-hour commute to Dublin city.

"The cost of housing here in Mullingar, relative to Dublin is the key selling point," says Gerry McInerney, Bank of Ireland head of Longford, Westmeath and Offaly. "A three-bedroom semi-detached house will cost usually around €180,000, a four-bedroom semi is around €220,000. There's good value in the property market, it's also commutable to Dublin with just a one-hour journey door to door.

There is a superb choice of secondary and primary schools in the town centre and you're only 40 minutes from Maynooth University and Athlone Institute of Technology

“Liffey Valley Shopping Centre is just 40 minutes away and there is an excellent bus and train service connecting both places.”

Primary and secondary education is served by the town, but in addition, you have easy access to the third-level institutions in Maynooth and Athlone. The town - perhaps somewhat surprisingly to some - also has its own vibrant community of retail, entertainment and social-activity outlets.

“There is a superb choice of secondary and primary schools in the town centre and you’re only 40 minutes from Maynooth University and Athlone Institute of Technology,” says McInerney.

“From a social point of view there’s a wide range of restaurants and bars. Living facilities in the town include a championship golf course, numerous senior football clubs, a state-of-the-art-rugby club with top facilities, soccer clubs and fishing is very well served with the lakes around the town. There is also an athletics club and many gyms and leisure centres, so from a sporting and health perspective the town has a huge amount to offer.

“To have a town with all these facilities, at the price point that the properties are at, and within an hour’s reach of Dublin, makes it the perfect place to buy a first home or indeed start a family when you look at the education, social, sports clubs and leisure activities.”

All of those attractive elements to Mullingar have kick-started construction with two developments currently in the process of completion.

“There are two developments that have been in the works over the last year,” says McInerney. “We’re also aware that there are developments in plan over the next year or so. And again, like what is already on sale in Mullingar, these new developments will offer the same value.”


Mullingar has served as the administrative centre for Westmeath since the county separated from Meath in 1543. Its traditions are as a market town, and more specifically a cattle-trading centre. However, that market was replaced in the early 2000s with other commercial outlets as modern Mullingar developed.

Geographically the area is served by the lakes of Owel, Ennell, Derravaragh, which has led to a successful angling business in the area.

The town centre is a hub of retail with Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Penneys, Lidl, SuperValu, Boots, Specsavers, Heatons and Life Style Sports all serving the local community.

The M4 connects the town with Dublin in the east and Sligo in the west, while a ring road has eased the traffic congestion problems that troubled the town centre in the past.

The Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar is the main healthcare facility for the Longford-Westmeath area.

From an education perspective there are a range of primary schools - both English and Irish-speaking. The oldest secondary school in the town is Colaiste Mhuire, while other options include St Finian’s College, Loreto College and Mullingar Community College.

Three senior GAA football clubs compete in the town: Mullingar Shamrocks, St Loman’s Mullingar and The Downs; St Oliver Plunkett’s and Cullion field senior hurling teams. The town is a hotbed for soccer, with seven clubs. For rugby fans, Mullingar RFC is notable for a number of Towns’ Cup final appearances in the 1980s and 1990s.


18 Ballinderry: a four-bed, semi-detached house for €219,950.

40 College Hill, Mullingar: a four-bed, semi-detached house for €209,950.

53 Harbour Court, Mullingar: a two-bed apartment for €85,000.