19 Jun 2017
Many Irish towns have quiet claims to fame, and some get overlooked or forgotten along the way.
Such is the case of Newcastle West’s pioneering yet much overlooked ‘daughter’ Sophie Catherine Theresa Mary Peirce-Evans.
She came to some note about 90 years ago, before and after her exploits in the 1926 Olympic Games.
Born in nearby Knockaderry, and best-known as Mary Lady Heath (the surname ‘Heath’ came from the second of her three marriages) she was a noted aviator who trained in agriculture, and later qualified as a mechanic. She flew solo in the 1920s from South Africa to London, and remarkably was the first-ever woman parachutist, as well as being a champion athlete as a javelin thrower and high jumper.
She died in 1939 after a head injury in a fall in a tram (somewhat ironically for a parachuting pioneer) and is commemorated in a 1990s-issued Irish stamp.
Quite a story – and one of many you’ll find for the Limerick town set not too far south of Foynes on the Shannon estuary. Newcastle West is a riverside town of huge antiquity with a population that has grown significantly since the 1990s, to over 7,000 – or even 11,000 in a wider-spun catchment.
There's a real, rooted community in Newcastle, good shopping and lifestyle amenities, a number of strong local employers, very good value in homes for sale, builders are back on sites, and it's an easy commute to and from Limerick city.
Newcastle West grew significantly during the boom-time run-up to the mid-2000s, and probably got oversupplied with new housing stock of a broad quality range as a result, which over-hung the ensuing slump.
Now settling in to recovery mode, the surplus is being tackled, ghost estates are being banished with new life breathed into moribund schemes, and values are picking up too.
Darragh Goggin of EBS’ Newcastle West office says there’s now evidence of a recovery mode; investor demand is starting to pick up as purchase values are extremely reasonable, and rental demand is back on the up also, so all the harbingers of a return to a functional economy and return on investment are now lining up.
A scan of property websites for available properties to buy around Newcastle West shows great volume and a varied mix.
As confidence returns, former temporary ghost-estates like Daar River View are returning towards completion, and three-bed semis are now being completed in a welcome, final phase. Prices are inching up towards €130,000 for stock ready to move into by late 2016.
Similarly, schemes like Arraview have seen price recovery from sub-€100k sums of a few years ago to similar €125,000 price homes as the work-out continues.
“While there’s a good quantity of stock to buy, there is a shortage of quality detached homes. There’s not enough good-quality detached properties to meet with the demand that’s there,” says Darragh, who nonetheless notes that the local Newcastle West EBS office is seeing a marked pick-up in demand and activity from would-be buyers, across the board.
First time buyers currently constitute over 60% of his office’s business.
Agriculture is a steady presence in a county setting like Newcastle West, as it feeds income across a variety of streams into nearby locales.
Newcastle West has significant employers, such as Pallas Foods, a wholesale food distribution business in seven Irish locations that has been headquartered for 30 years in west Limerick. Also positive is the current Nestlé €25 million investment in the Wyeth food R&D plant at Askeaton.
All good news for many other home hunters in the area around west Limerick who are commuters and doing a day’s work in Limerick city in the likes of Regeneron, Raheen, and wider climes.
It’s all good news, really. The sort of money that a first time buyer might have to pay in a city like Limerick, Cork, Galway or Dublin will buy a family home around Newcastle West. There’s a very good range of options in the broad €200/300,000 price range.
In fact, the Price Register for 2015 shows just about a half dozen sales out of 87 in the area in 2015 for over €200,000, and none at all in excess of €200k up to June 2016, although the latter half of the year typically produces the stronger price results.
Home hunters are planning ahead and some ex-pats currently living abroad in the UK or Australia are now thinking of coming back to Irish shores – or so says Darragh.
EBS has approved mortgages for ex-pats who are now on the home-hunt trail in Co. Limerick, and are searching for houses and sites on which to build, with affordability a key driver.
“We’ve a few approved buyers assessing sites, employing professionals on aspects like percolation tests,” he observes of this quite literal/yet metaphorical ‘dipping a toe in the water’ test of ability and resolve to build.
About a quarter of EBS mortgage business in Newcastle West are self builders, reveals Darragh, and this lending/mortgage sector is, indeed, an EBS strength.
While Newcastle West might not yet have produced another Olympian and celebrity like Mary Lady Heath, it’s becoming home for plenty of buyers who will make their own history here.
If you'd like to talk through your mortgage options, book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting with Darragh Goggin or one of the team in EBS Newcastle West. You can also use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.
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Goggin Insurance Brokers Limited trading as EBS Newcastle West, is a tied mortgage agent acting solely on behalf of EBS d.a.c. EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
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