How do you solve a problem like Dun Laoghaire


Interesting couple of articles today on Dun Laoghaire and why it cannot seem to attract enough people to the town despite apparent natural advantages. Why does it feel more like a small town in the midlands than one of the largest town centres of the capital?

A lengthy one from Jennifer O’Connell in the Irish Times
Dun Laoghaire’s continuing failure to reinvent itself

…Some of the issues faced here are not dissimilar from those facing other Irish towns and villages: a struggling retail environment; competition from online and out-of-town shopping; frustration over parking and rates; and a lack of consensus on any kind of strategy.
There is no shortage of vision for what could be done, but little agreement locally on what should be done.
If Dún Laoghaire can’t thrive in a period of economic recovery, the feeling seems to be, what hope is there for everywhere else? What chance have towns less blessed with abundant natural amenities, an affluent population, proximity to the capital, a large harbour and the sea?..

and a subscriber only one from David McWilliams that will probably go on his website next week. Dun Laoghaire typifies ireland’s poor use of land

From DLR Council research, it doesn’t appear to be a matter of available money in the area

So it seems that people do not want to spend their money in Dun Laoghaire

I wonder how much demographics has to play as Dun Laoghaire and its closest villages in Glasthule, Dalkey, Monkstown, Blackrock are all aging.

It’s a real pity as it should be something for all 200,000 people in Dun Laoghaire borough to enjoy, rather than avoid…


Hard too know. The is poor linkages between the various parts of the town. Better links and use of public open space. It needs to managed by a good town architect as was the case in westport for example.


Dun Laoghaire always struck me as having a crap main street, out of balance completely. The locals often tend to socialise in Dalkey which is only a village rather than a town whereas DL central is as high rise along the main street as Dublin City centre.


Retail in DL has been killed by Carrickmines and Dundrum and the main street is on its knees because of this. However the area around the harbour and over towards Sandycove is actually very nice now. Its probably time for a lot of the main street to be converted to residential as there seems to be no demand for all these small shops any longer.


The key to my mind of DunLaoghaire is the old shopping centre. If this is redeveloped to a largely residential mixed use development then the influx of residents, and in particular young residents with discretionary income, would drive change all along Georges Street.

As has been pointed out, the coast side of Dunlaoghaire has been developed really well in the last 10-20 years (pavilion theatre, library, plazas, baths, peoples park etc) so the next stage is to link up to the main street.


Is there anything to be said for a mini holland type project for Dun Laoghaire? I mean if it’s already failing then what is there to lose?


David McWilliams’ article on Dun Laoghaire is up on his website now…many of the points he makes have been noted above. I really like the idea of converting the main street to more residential to create that desperately needed footfall and bringing life back to the area.

Critical to Dún Laoghaire’s future is population. The first aim of local government should be to double the size of the old town’s population from 4,000 to 8,000 within five years. This means rezoning rapidly from old retail units and commercial use to residential use in the centre of the town. It also means penalising dereliction.

Retail in the future will depend on the local population walking to the shops. Increasing the immediate population increases the local footfall and drives retail business.

Unfortunately, the likes of the car-friendly Dundrum shopping centre suck previous suburban trade out of traditional town centres. That horse has bolted.


Dundrum recently objected to the expanded development of Carrickmines on the basis of it being too car centric, which is laughable given the state of Dundrum. Other neighbourhoods are looking to reduce dependence on cars, I’d be all on board with Williams plan if it made Dun Laoghaire more “liveable”.


Didn’t Dun Laoghaire pedestrianise part of Georges street previously and then roll it back? Anyone have any info about that or why it was rolled back ?


They did. The bit that is currently cobbled between St Michael’s Church and St. Michael’s Hospital. Buses however could use it in the Blackrock bound direction (as now). Many felt it caused that stretch to be very quiet and unsafe at night. It also caused a lot of traffic into the narrow (redbrick) residential streets behind Bloomfields. I don’t think the council ever consulted properly on the scheme. It seemed to be opportunistic at the end of a pipe laying project or similar. We have had the current system since which seems fine. The old 2-way would be a disaster now I guess.


Thanks for the info. I very much disagree with a half measure of removing cars but then allowing double Decker buses. It’s either pedestrianized or not. Thinking a bit more radically, that stretch of street could be completely pedestrianized. Allow cafes/ restaurants to build semi permanent outdoor( covered) structures on the path to increase table space and revenue, and have people walk in the street. Put a fountain and a children’s play area. It would take some retail space off the street. That stretch could become a restaurant destination.


I think that Monkstown on one side and Glasthule/Sandycove on the other side, as well as the harbour part of Dun Laoghaire itself, have got the restaurant destination thing covered already. And Dalkey and Blackrock going a little further in each direction. Not sure that there is room in the market for much more fine dining/mid range dining in the general area.


Retail is struggling against online/big box challenge, so it’s difficult to see what else you can encourage other than cultural/recreational uses which are going to be non profit. McWilliams point re increasing the population and encouraging walking should create a market for more hospitality and groceries/services.


I Live past the hospital towards Monkstown. Retail units are pretty grim/ empty. Bucking the trend are a Ramen place and an Italian restaurant that opened withing the last year and are packed. Most definitely covering their bills. Food offering on the high street is actually quite poor.


These places open and close regularly. Isn’t the Giddy Goose cafe closed again around there as is the nice cafe that used to trade just past the Cumberland for some years? There is huge competition in that space in the area and it seems to be a zero sum game.

Actually it seems amazing that banks continuously seem to throw money at new restaurants even though there is a high failure rate? It brings to mind the plot of Mel Brook’s movie The Producers. Borrow big and fail big and perhaps no one will come to you looking for their money back?


In 2015 the Dun Laoghaire Business Improvement District Company commissioned a report into revitalising the town and the consultants report [Link] looked at options under the following 7 headings -

In order to create a new vision for the town that can be implemented in 5 years - the 20/20 Vision – 180 Degrees has looked at many other possible options as revealed in consultations, town comparisons and through literature reviews including:

  • Comparisons with other town centres in Europe such as Amsterdam, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander and Loulé and within Ireland also Kilkenny, Westport, Killarney and Galway. (It is suggested that a benchmarking system with selected other towns be introduced).

The options that were looked at include the following seven discounted headings below.

  • The potential to rebuild Georges Street with a focus on residential development.
  • The possibilities for commercial redevelopment of the street with large scale premium grade office development.
  • The requirements and resources for town renewal and regeneration projects that could involve the possible suggestion of a rebuild of key infrastructure such as the DL Shopping Centre and the IMC end of Bloomfields Shopping Centre.
  • Phasing the town into an era where the town centre becomes ‘car free’.
  • Do nothing on the main street and allow ‘market forces’ to drive change of uses and new development in retail, housing and other categories
  • Downsize and significantly reduce the retail offer on the main street.
  • Developing the town as a commuter hub (residential, leisure and retail) for the new tech centres along the DART in the Docklands and along the Quays.

After conducting several strategy sessions including five workshops with the business community, one-on-one consultations with key role players, having reviewed and researched the reports on the town, the analysis now points to a recommendation of the regeneration and revitalisation of Georges Street as the number one key strategic priority. This will position the town for new investment and rejuvenation over the next five years.

I can’t quite work out which of the seven headings examined would have led to the recommendation…maybe option 3 but with 65% of the existing businesses located on George’s Street, perhaps that representation on the BID Company swayed the direction of the report. Nonetheless, there is lots of good stuff in the report beside the conclusion in my view.

20/20 Vision
Key findings from demographic analysis of the 10 minute walk time of Dún Laoghaire

  • A relatively young population with 34% under 30yrs and only 17% over 65yrs.
  • Over half the population are single, reflecting the young age profile.
  • Over 30% of households are pre or young family groups.
  • A very significant number of households are single-person households.
  • A relatively affluent population with almost 50% ABC1 socio-economic groups.
  • Occupation Type reflects the higher socio-economic status of the population.
  • 3rd level qualifications and higher reflect the occupation type and affluent profile.
  • 20% of the population are non-Irish.
  • 29% of households have paid off their mortgages. A significant proportion is in rented accommodation.
  • 38% of commuters are using cars with most driving.


Giddy Goose closed and was immediately replaced by a tea room ‘Nunki’. Across the road Feast was apparently making a killing but decided to up sticks and head for the city centre and Golden Lane, only to lose their loyal customers and their shirt, selling everything (presumably at a loss) to a group who failed to turn it around and since shut it down. When Feast vacated DL, a confused thai place moved in and failed to repeat the success, miserably and fast. A new place, aptly called ‘The Mad House’ has opened there since, time will tell if they can make a go of it.

Like you say, it’s dog eat dog on the restaurant scene, but new places like Bella Dentro, Soup and the cafe in the shopping centre, Shoe Lane, are showing that new vibrant offerings can make a go of it. The real mystery to me is how on earth so many chemists/pharmacys keep going in such a small market.


No Government funding has been provided to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to cover almost €40 million in debts from the town’s defunct harbour company, councillors have been told.

The council is seeking consultants to advise on new uses for the harbour, and to find solutions to declining commercial space and over-concentration of housing in the town centre, under two €100,000 contracts.

The €100,000 harbour contract will involve an assessment of the current marine and tourism uses of the harbour and its economic position, and advise on its future uses and income-generating potential.
I’m not sure everyone would agree that the town centre of Dun Laoghaire has an over-concentration of housing, unless they mean an over-concentration of low density old cottage type housing.


Bleeperbike removes bike sharing service from Dun Laoghaire

Bleeperbike, the “stationless” bike rental scheme, which began operating in Dún Laoghaire two years ago, is to withdraw its bikes from the area this week, it has emerged.

Bleeperbike began operating in Dún Laoghaire in October 2017 and expanded into Dublin city last year. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council last month announced it had awarded a permanent licence to the company. However, in a letter to councillors on Tuesday the council said the company was not taking up its licence and was withdrawing the service.

Anyone know the kind of thing that would cause this to fail? Council looking for too much or not offering enough subsidy (I don’t know the business model)? Too little demand?


Bleeper Bike is a little bit of a disaster the way the bikes are dispersed. They need much higher concentration to make it attractive. The nail in the coffin for me was walking from Point Depot to Ranelagh one evening passing two “missing” bikes on the app but not finding any bikes. I passed so many Dublin Bikes stations that I resubscribed that evening. I would have resubscribed on the spot but I didn’t realise it is instant when you have a leap card. It should be massively attractive for those outside the Dublin Bikes catchment, which Ranelagh is, but the bikes are too dispersed and the app is abysmally slow and clunky.