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GOREY IS A historic market town. Its position on the main road between Dublin and the Wexford ports has made it an important regional hub for centuries, just as it gives the town good transport links today.
Its architecture reflects this regional importance, with prominent buildings including the 18th-century Market House – used by the rebels of 1798 as a headquarters, and by loyalist forces to torture prisoners.
Gorey has grown rapidly in recent years. The population more than doubled between 1996 and 2016, with a significant part of that growth coming from commuters. But it’s far from a dormitory town – the centre is still very much alive and the tree-lined main street has kept its market-town feel with plenty of independent businesses.
Take me there! OK! Here you are at the bottom of the main street.
So what’s the big draw? Gorey is a pretty town with a longstanding community, a long history and plenty of life. It’s safe and family friendly, with lots of sports clubs and other amenities (it’s even getting a new park). It’s close to the seaside. It also happens to be an hour from Dublin, Rosslare and Kilkenny.
What do people love about it? The community spirit, says Michael Gleeson, who runs the Loch Garman Arms hotel on Main Street.
The majority of business in the town are still owned and run by local families which I think lends itself to the great community spirit that we have in the town. Not all families are long standing but the newer families, just as the older families do support the local charities and clubs and get involved on the different committees that make the town what it is.
Sport is one of many things that brings a community together and Gorey has a great choice. Our local club Naomh Eanna won the County Hurling final only a few weeks ago and to see all the flags up before the match and the crowd that turned out for the homecoming parade just gives the town a lift.
And… what do people NOT love about it? The rate of growth will be a challenge in future, says Michael.
What I think I would like to change is the rate at which Gorey is growing and developing. It must be one of the fastest growing towns in the South East, and the challenge that I see with this is trying to keep that friendly welcome and community spirit that we are known for. Gorey will have interesting and trying times ahead but I’m sure that the town will work hard to keep its character.
What’s the story with house prices? It’s one of the more expensive towns in Wexford. An average asking price of €252,304 is a good bit higher than Enniscorthy (€188k) or Wexford town (€187k).
However, if you’re a commuter looking at it as an alternative to south Dublin, it’s a bargain in comparison – the average Dublin price is around €420k. Meanwhile in Wicklow town, a bit closer to the capital, the average is €335k.
How long will it take me to Dublin? It’s about an hour’s drive to south Dublin when the traffic is good. If you’re heading into the city centre on the N11 at rush hour, expect that time to increase significantly.
Bus services are run by Bus Éireann and Wexford Bus, and take around an hour and 25 minutes. There’s a train, but it’s infrequent and takes about two hours. (It does have its own dog mascot, though.)
Where should I get lunch? The Book Cafe, a cosy spot on Main Street which does sambos, salads and cakes surrounded by lots of, yes, books.
Alternatives: For something a little fancier, The Kitchen is a modern bistro serving thoughtful takes on the classics.
And what’s my new local? Definitely French’s, a venerable pub on the main strip that has been serving up the goods with the same family behind the bar for upwards of 100 years.
Schools and supermarkets? There’s pretty much the full set of major supermarkets – a SuperValu on the main street, a Tesco and a Dunnes in the shopping centre, an Aldi, a Lidl and even an Iceland.
There are five primary schools in the town: Gorey Educate Together (multidenominational, mixed, 429 pupils); Gaelscoil Moshíológ (interdenominational, mixed, 226 pupils); Gorey Central (Church of Ireland, mixed, 226 pupils); St Joseph’s (Catholic, mixed, 472 pupils); and Bunscoil Loreto (Catholic, mixed, 717 pupils).
OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Gorey trivia to impress a local. U2 played Gorey back in 1980, as part of the lineup at the Gorey Arts Festival. At first they ruffled some feathers – including those of the local canoe club. One member later told the Irish Independent: “We were supposed to be having a meeting next door to the Theatre Hall, but it was too noisy, so we had to call it off.”
(He added: “We went in to see the band instead, and it turned out to be a great show.”)