A closer look at Dublin’s neighbourhoods

Why do any of us choose what part of the city we live in? Budget usually dictates, as well as practicalities – Is it near a Luas stop? What are the local schools like? – or sometimes, well, it’s just for random reasons. Occasionally, we’ll get a yen to live somewhere in particular, because we’ve decided we like its village vibe.

When I moved to Harold’s Cross six years ago, my motivation was less notional and more prosaic. We’re talking about a room in a very nice house, with people I liked and most importantly of all, it was only twenty minutes’ walk into Dublin’s city centre.

In my initial assessment of Harold Cross, I failed to take into account the finer points of what a genial part of Dublin it is. This came later during my five year stint in the ‘X’, as my housemates and I duly appointed it.

Say the words ‘Harold’s Cross’ and one of the first things that tends to come to people’s minds is the recently closed greyhound track. Note: it is entirely possible to live in Harold’s Cross and never once have attended a night at the races. The same cannot be said of Harold’s Cross Park, which should be visited at every opportunity, what with it being a small and perfectly formed little Victorian-style oasis of green, beloved of dog walkers and parents, awash this time of year with beautiful blooms.

Historically, there are some dark elements to its past. Harold’s Cross was an area for public executions back in the 18th century. It was also where the nationalist Robert Emmett was captured, as commemorated by a plaque on Harold’s Cross Bridge; his sweetheart, Sarah Curran, lived locally. It’s also home to many ‘Mounts’ – Mount Jerome cemetery, where JM Synge and Oscar Wilde’s father William is buried, and Greenmount House, which became Dublin city’s first hospice.

Today’s Harold’s Cross is a more secular and – arguably – peaceful place, boasting a friendly mix of older residents and young families. Not to suggest that the X is on the cusp of having a hipster makeover, a la Smithfield, but there have been some intriguing new injections of life of late. It’s always had its decent share of local eateries and pubs – Peggy Kelly’s and The Harold House are great for a pint, and Konkan is one of the best Indian restaurants in Dublin – now MVP, just at the bridge, has become the go-to for those in search of artisan beers. Critics are giving the thumbs up to the newly opened Craft, located in what was formerly the Black Apple Café, where fine dining is being given a casual makeover.

For a real sense of the X, visit the annual Harold’s Cross Festival which usually takes place across the area from during the month of May, with a dog show, art exhibitions and live music aplenty.

My insider tip: visit Rugz to Rhinos for the most incredible collection of furniture and collectibles. You won’t leave empty handed.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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