A closer look at Dublin’s neighbourhoods
Inner-city resident Leopold Bloom, the hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses, dreams of moving out to leafy suburbia. He has his eye on Dundrum, south of the city, where he imagines living in a bungalow called “Flowerville” or perhaps “Bloom Cottage”. Over a century later, Dundrum remains an attractive place to live.
If you’re coming from the city by road, the first you might see of Dundrum is its magnificent Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge. The bridge carries the Luas tram line over the busy Taney Road junction and is named for William Dargan, the pioneer of Irish railways. Dargan lived nearby, in Goatstown, where Queen Victoria came to visit him in 1853.
Shortly after the bridge, and you really can’t miss it, is Dundrum’s colossal shopping centre (confusingly its official name is ‘Dundrum Town Centre‘). It’s really a collection of malls, and it’s certainly the first thing that comes to Dubliners’ minds when Dundrum is mentioned. It boasts umpteen retail options – from supermarkets and a department store through a myriad of fashion options to crazy golf, cinemas and the Mill Theatre.
“You can spend hours in there,” says Fiona Lawlor, a regular visitor, “you don’t have to leave for anything”. A favourite of hers for food is the Port House tapas restaurant (“gorgeous vegetarian paella”). The unlikely-sounding Rain Forest Adventure Golf also gets a thumbs-up. A large branch of Zara is the big attraction for Sarah Mulvin who is another enthusiastic shopping centre visitor. Sarah’s very fond of the frozen yoghurt at Mooch too. Meanwhile, Eddie Rocket’s milkshakes seem to hold a unique appeal for the pupils of Alexandra College, one of Dublin’s most prestigious girls’ schools and a mere two stops away on the Luas.
It is possible to escape the shopping centre, however. Dundrum village has a thriving main street and boasts plenty of attractions. These include an excellent library, the beautiful and recently renovated Holy Cross church and several pubs including the Nest, The Eagle and Dundrum House – which serves excellent food. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is another great place for food and drink – it’s on the northern side of the Dargan bridge. Joe Daly’s bicycle shop is nearby – it’s been a south Dublin institution for more than 60 years now.
A couple of minutes’ walk in the other direction will bring you to the Rockfield centre, which houses a medical campus (health insurer VHI runs a walk-in clinic here) as well as the highly regarded Brickyard Gastropub (try the huevos rancheros). The ‘Balally’ stop on the Luas line is here too – you get off at this stop for the shopping centre and not, confusingly, at the one called ‘Dundrum’.
Walk just a few minutes up the road from Rockfield, and you’ll arrive at Airfield Estate, a fully operational farm. There are pigs, donkeys, cows, chickens and ducks – as well as beautiful gardens and a restaurant which Sarah Mulvin recommends highly. Called Overend’s Kitchen in memory of the family who once lived here, it’s a favourite spot with the parent-and-baby-buggy brigade mid-morning, and with the whole family on Sundays.
Most remarkable of all Dundrum residents, however, was probably the physicist George Johnstone Stoney. In 1874 George introduced the concept of the electron, the “ fundamental unit quantity of electricity”, to the world. He was also an astronomer and today there is an extra-terrestrial component to his fame: not only is the road where he once lived now named after him, so is a large crater on the moon and another larger one on Mars. Measuring 161 km across, even Dundrum’s shopping centre would be dwarfed by the Stoney Crater.
Where is it and how do I get there?
Location-wise, Dundrum is between Rathfarnham to the west and Goatstown and Mount Merrion to the east. Churchtown and Clonskeagh are to the north; Sandyford and Ballinteer to the south. It’s handy for the M50, less than 15 minutes from the city centre by Luas and well served by buses (The 175 takes in Dundrum on its way from TU Dublin’s Tallaght and Blanchardstown campuses to UCD, the 750 goes to the airport, and the 14, 44 and 75 are also at your service.)