Sitting on a beautiful stretch of the north county Dublin coast is the harbourside town of Balbriggan. A short hop away from Skerries, the bustling area it is today began as a small fishing and agricultural village in the 18th century. Today, it has grown steadily more popular over the years with people looking for a more relaxed lifestyle by the sea.
And with the summer we’ve just had, imagine having the beach on your doorstep while still being just a short while from Dublin city centre. If you’re thinking about making a move to the area, we’ve got everything you need to know, from fun days out with the family to the best hidden gems.
Balbriggan’s got the best of both as you’ve got the beach and the harbour just moments away and it’s a 40-minute train journey into Dublin city centre, or a 35-minute drive. As well as that, Swords and the airport are both 20 minutes away by car.
Things to do
Start your weekend off by catching a film at Omniplex Balbriggan, which holds a kids club every Saturday and Sunday morning with tickets from just €3. After that, Ardgillan Castle, less than 10 minutes away, is always a fun day out for the family. Its beautiful gardens overlooking the Irish Sea are perfect for an afternoon stroll and kids will love the castle-themed playground, too.
There’s a farmer’s market every Friday at Georges Square which sells only local produce including fish, organic fruit and veg and fresh cut flowers. For anything else you might need, Millfield Shopping Centre has one of the largest Tescos in Ireland, a food court and plenty of clothes shops.
And as you’re just minutes away from the coast, you can spend plenty of time going swimming or for long walks on the beach. Balbriggan beach also has its famous annual charity Christmas Day swim for anyone feeling brave enough to go for a dip mid-December.
There’s plenty of schools in the area, including a number of primary schools. There’s the Irish language Gaelscoil Bhaile Brigín, two Educate Together National Schools (that’s the Bracken and Balbriggan ones), several National Schools including St. Molaga’s, St Teresa’s and Scoil Chormaic. You also have the Church of Ireland’s St. George’s National School.
At secondary school level there’s Ardgillan Community College, Bremore Educate Together, Loreto Balbriggan and Balbriggan Community College. For those looking for an Irish-language school, you've got Coláiste Ghlór na Mara.
Eating & Drinking
Balbriggan has a lot to offer in terms of great restaurants if you’re a foodie looking for the best spots in town.
Ardgillan Castle also happens to have one of Dublin’s first dog-friendly cafés on its grounds. The Castle Tea Rooms at Ardgillan are the perfect place for dog owners to stop for a bite to eat after letting your pooch go for a run around the castle grounds.
If you're planning on heading out for the evening, the traditional Irish pub and restaurant Man O’War, which dates back as far as 1595, is about as authentic as you can get, with its thatched roof and whitewashed walls. It’s the ideal spot to start off for a few drinks before heading out for dinner - though their own dinner menu is fantastic, too.
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a relaxed evening out, the Brick Room is a lovely wine and tapas bar by night (it also serves as a café during the day). Libero Pizza & Pasta has a great atmosphere and is well worth a visit for its seafood dishes.
Karma Thai restaurant is another great child-friendly one to try – and it’s right next door to the cinema which makes it a great place to stop in after catching a film. In fact, everything in Balbriggan is just a short walk away, from the café's to the parks to the beaches, which is what makes it such an ideal place to spend quality time with the family.