‘It’s a wonderful little village’: Saggart locals say the youngest town in Ireland has changed for the better

Dublin town has an average age of 30.4 years, latest census shows

Liz O’Connor (71) was “born and reared” in Saggart, Co Dublin, and said the town has changed a lot over the years but she is not moving.

On Thursday the Central Statistics Office said that among the towns with a population of 1,500-10,000, Saggart in Dublin was the youngest. The town has an average age of 30.4 years, the latest census shows.

Having raised four children in Saggart, Ms O’Connor said change was inevitable, pointing to apartments in an area where there used to be farms “just up the road” from where she grew up. “But sure isn’t it grand, you have your family reared and so at this stage of our life we’re happy enough with that, I’m not moving.”

Ms O’Connor was chatting with friends outside Dunnes Stores, all of whom were delighted to hear they were living in such a youthful place.


Mary Murray, in her 30s, works as a manager in the Centra in Saggart and lives up the road – “but that would be Tallaght”, she said.

The GAA club in the town has grown “tenfold” she said, with age groups from under eights to senior in ladies and men. Their ladies team was set up in 2019 and moved up a division this year, Ms Murray said, adding: “I’m a part of it.”

Their underage teams are full of mixed nationalities, she said, and the club organised a camp for Ukrainian children to learn GAA skills.

The town used to be “a small village” she said, with “two pubs, a shop and the garage”. Only one pub is still in business, alongside the shop and garage.

The biggest difference she has noticed in the past few years is how the town has become more multicultural. “There’s so many different nationalities, it’s nice because there’s no division,” Ms Murray said.

Many locals said the town has become more multicultural, with young families moving in. One woman, who did not wish to be named, said she has lived in the town for seven years with three of her four children.

“A lot of people have moved in, just like myself. I noticed in my estate when I moved in there, I was the second African there, but right now a lot of people have moved in and other nationalities as well, and with so many people from Ukraine the area has really changed a lot, it’s become busier,” she said.

“I think it’s a lot of pressure on everything,” she said. The Luas is full “in the morning, afternoon, night”, she said, and the roads are always busy in the town.

In Jacob’s bar locals were happy to talk about their homeplace, which they said is “full of characters”.

“It’s a wonderful little village, it’s changed in the last 30 years since the hotel went in and the infrastructure came after that and it got all built up. It was a one horse town until 25 years ago,” Wayne Redmond (48) said.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else, not if I got a house or anything.”

In days gone by, “like a lot of villages”, the families married into one another, Shay Kelly (52) said. “The original families that were in Saggart are like every other rural village, they’re all related through marriage, but that’s kind of gone now,” Mr Kelly said.

The five Saggart men who were on the Dublin team when they won the All-Ireland final in 1942 were mentioned a few times during the conversation. “That was the claim to fame, five Saggart men, from a village winning an All-Ireland was huge,” Mr Kelly said.

Back then everyone knew each other in Saggart. “You’d say hello to everybody, everybody would say hello to you,” Mr Redmond said.

“So to say Saggart has changed, of course it’s changed. But there doesn’t seem to be that much mixing, young people who have houses down there, they seem to stay in a lot,” Mr Kelly says but Billy “the Kid” interjects: “That’s because their bleedin’ mortgage is around their neck.”

Karl Finnegan (39) says he thinks people have moved to Saggart because of “the location and amenities”, good schools and cheaper prices compared to the rest of Dublin.

“It’s a nice place to live

... I suppose it’s like everywhere, it’s just got more built up and modernised isn’t it? And it’s just a good mixture of people,” Mr Finnegan said.

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O'Donoghue is an Irish Times journalist