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SANDYMOUNT WASN’T always the wealthy urban village it is today. Back in the 18th century, the area was a little-populated area of shoreland known as ‘Brickfields’ – and dominated by an industrial brickworks, which turned the sand of the beach into bricks for the grand avenues of Georgian Dublin. A 1766 parliamentary return showed just 10 families living here.
When the sea wall was built around the turn of the 19th century, however, that began to change. Suddenly the shore was available for the building of grand houses, and wealthy Dubliners didn’t miss the opportunity.
Sandymount became a popular seaside resort – it even had its own pier and swimming baths, built in 1883, the ruin of which is still visible on the strand. The green that remains the centre of the village was also laid out during this time.
Today, Sandymount retains its own distinct atmosphere as an attractive and well-heeled village – although now one that is almost in the centre of Dublin, rather than a resort outside it. It’s been home to an array of famous faces, from Bryan Dobson to Dermot Morgan to Sinead O’Connor. And it’s widely seen as a highly desirable place to live.
Take me there! But of course. Here you are at the corner of the green (and on a lovely sunny day too).
So what’s the big draw? Sandymount is a well-kept urban village with a very attractive mix of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture – some would say Dublin at its best. With many smaller homes, it’s much more approachable than the grand avenues of Mount Merrion and the like.
With its own pubs, cafes and shops, it’s unusual to find such a self-contained village atmosphere so close to the city centre. There’s even an independent bookshop, for crying out loud.
What do people love about it? The location, says resident Alanna O’Shea.
You’re a few minutes walk away from the beach and less than ten minutes into town on the Dart. Sandymount Strand is a wonderful place to go for a stroll and to clear your head (however it does consistently smell of old fish a couple times a year).
The village atmosphere around the green is just one of the advantages pointed out by Mary Ryan of Sandymount Tidy Towns.
In summer, it is a sight to behold when parents and childminders bring their toddlers to play hopscotch by chalking the outlines on the pathways, play ball, or amble along on their little scooters. This green dates back to the early 1880s and is a wonderful amenity for all strands of the community.
Meanwhile Sabrina Mahony highlights the active community life:
You always see families and kids playing with each other in the green and numerous community events take place in the area – the Wren on St Stephen’s Day, Halloween Scarecrow competitions in the local shops, street parties, activities in the local school and churches, the Sandymount Gospel Choir as well as sports club like Railway Union… Many people know each other and spend time together, so there is a real sense of community.
And… what do people NOT love about it? It can be quiet, says Alanna – and it’s certainly expensive.
Like many places in south Dublin, Sandymount is an expensive place to live. Property prices have always been steep here but it’s only getting worse at the moment. Food shopping, restaurants and pubs all tend to be that little bit more pricey around here.
Sabrina mentions the roads – “traffic on the Strand Road, cannot get anywhere between 5-7pm” – and Mary also notes this.
Since last year, a 30km/h was introduced on all roads leading to the Village, but it has to be said that the adherence to same has been rather poor.
But ultimately, she says:
What is the biggest downside of living in Sandymount? It simply is, having to leave it!
What’s the story with house prices? Big. Sandymount is one of the most expensive areas anywhere in the city – in fact it’s in fifth place behind only Foxrock, Mount Merrion, Sandycove and Dalkey. The average asking price of a property in these parts is €730,022 according to Daft.ie.
How long will it take me into town? It’s about a 40-minute walk to Stephen’s Green from Sandymount Green. The Dart, meanwhile, will get you to Pearse Street in less than 10 minutes.
Sandymount is also served by a couple of Dublin Bus routes – the 1 and 47 into town, and the 18 heading west across the southside to Palmerstown.
Where should I get lunch? Head for the local outpost of Dunne and Crescenzi, which serves the same good Italian eats as the city centre version.
And what’s my new local? The Sandymount House, aka Ryan’s, does a good pint in a low-key atmosphere that’s all the more welcome in this part of town.
Alternatives: Mulligan’s is also a good reliable for a pint, with a fairly serious gastropub on board too.
Schools and supermarkets? Sandymount is a bit upmarket for anything as mundane as a large supermarket – but it does have a Tesco Metro. Your nearest big option is the Tesco Superstore in the Merrion Shopping Centre.
There are four primary schools nearby: Scoil Mhuire (Catholic, girls, 288 pupils); Star of the Sea (Catholic, boys, 353 pupils); St Matthew’s (Church of Ireland, mixed, 226 pupils); and Shellybanks Educate Together (multidenominational, mixed, 185 pupils).
There’s one secondary school in the village itself: Sandymount Park Educate Together (multidenominational, mixed). More are nearby.
OK, I’m sold. Give me one piece of Sandymount trivia to impress a local. Sandymount has a little-known Beatles connection. Freda Kelly, the legendary secretary of the official Beatles Fan Club – who replied to the thousands of fans’ letters to the group – was born in Sandymount until moving to Liverpool at the age of 13. Four years later, she took a job with Beatles manager Brian Epstein, against her father’s advice, and the rest is history.
Freda is the subject of a 2013 documentary, Good Ol’ Freda. Here’s the trailer.
Do you live in Sandymount? Share your opinion in the comments!