Friday, February 17, 2012

Apartment living: Hot properties above the shop in Dublin city centre

Some years, I read a newspaper interview with an older lady who was the only person who had a home on O'Connell Street. The sole resident of the country's most famous main street, she lived among the department stores and fast food outlets, watching the world and its mother go by from her flat. I don't know if she is still there, but I think it's a shame that so few people live in the heart of Dublin's city centre.

BREW LEASE OF LIFE: A three-bedroom apartment on lively East Essex Street in Temple Bar, Dublin 2, costs €1,700 to rent per month.  A decent cup of coffee is also conveniently close with the Joy of Chai downstairs. Image via

When I walk down the likes of Exchequer Street, Drury Street and Fade Street, I often look above shop level to the huge windows and high ceilings of the upper floors and think of how lovely it would be if people (okay, me!) lived there.

There seem to be quite a few commercial properties on streets such as these up for rent. I don't know how complex the re-zoning of commercial to residential is, but I think that Dublin City Council did at one stage have a 'living above the shop'-type scheme.

Again, I'm not well-versed on planning issues, but it seems to me that Dublin's urban sprawl would have been considerably lessened had we followed the example of other European capitals such as Paris and Brussels, where living in the heart of the city centre is the norm.

Most of the buildings in Dublin city centre date from a time where living above the shop was the norm and the buildings were designed with this purpose in mind. Indeed, my dad and his 10 siblings all grew up above their family's butcher shop in Co. Tyrone. But like many buildings of its kind throughout the country, the floors above the shop are now used as commercial premises, rather than as family homes.

TOP CHOP SHOP: This is my father's family's butcher shop in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, where my dad grew up with his 10 siblings. It's a fine looking building. I like the carved stone sign and the stained glass beneath it, along with the dramatic corbles. The rooms above the shop are now used to house a beauty salon. Thanks to my cousin Paul for sending me this image via Google Maps.

There are some options, both for purchasers and renters (for whom parking and pet ownership isn't an issue), in Dublin's historic city centre. Here's a selection:

FIT FOR A PRINCE/PRINCESS: A two-bedroom apartment at 18 The Royal Exchange, Parliament Street, Dublin 2,  is for sale at €220,000. Image via

DAME AND FORTUNE: The city is on your door-step with this one-bedroom apartment on Dame Street renting for €850 monthly. Opposite pop-up restaurant Crackbird's current location. Image via 

BREAK THE BANK: Also on Dame Street, a whooping €1.5 million is all you need to acquire a beautiful five-storey over basement building (above and below) at number 37, which I think may once have been a bank judging by the dramatic shop-front. Directly across from the Central Bank. Its conversion to a residential property could be subject to planning permission. Images via

FADE TO GREY: The location of RTÉ's recent *reality* show, this two-bedroom penthouse apartment in this stunning turreted Victorian building on the corner of Fade Street at is yours to rent for  €1,750 a month. One of the best locations in the city. Image via


  1. I'd love to live in the heart of Dublin but parking is a nightmare. Moved from Stoneybatter to the canal by the old school house. My dream apartment would be that gorgeous Victorian place above Lafayette. Or anywhere around Coppinger row... With each move I'm moving closer into the city but it's more and more expensive :(

  2. Thanks a million for your comment, Sean! The area by the Old School House is lovely. Coppinger Row would be a dream location. It's a pity that the choice is limited in the city centre and the cost so high. I hope it will become more attractive for residential living in the future. As for parking, it's hard to see that problem ever being resolved!

  3. Sounds like it would be great to live in Dublin! Love the fact that the place is very accessible to commercial shops especially since apartments which usually are are often times the best.

  4. Hello...I'm new to your site, but am heartened to see on the very first page a reference to Northern Ireland. I've spent a good deal of time in Cookstown and have bought meat from Mac Mahon's shop...and it was quite good! Now to take a peek around the rest of the site.

  5. Hi Elizabeth, welcome to Mo Theach! I see that you have a connection to Dungannon. Glad to hear that you were happy with Mac Mahon's! Thank you for taking the time to comment!