For the best part of the past decade, since the opening of the M3 motorway around the same time as the arrival of the economic recession, Dunshaughlin village has been at something of a standstill.
But over the last year, the 'village' has taken off again, as dormant developments have been revived, and ground was broken on planning permissions that were about to run out.
Dunshaughlin had been, for the best part of the last century, the main centre of administration for the south Meath area, housing the council offices for the region, and the local courthouse.
It was an important place long before that – deriving its name from St Sechnall, believed to be a nephew of St Patrick. It is said Sechnall, a bishop, came to Ireland a year after Patrick, and fixed his see at Dunshaughlin, one of the eight main dioceses into which Meath was divided at the time. He founded his church in Dunshaughlin on the site of the present day Church of Ireland in the village – a ruin is still visible in the graveyard.
The village originally developed where the main Dublin to Cavan route was intersected with the Trim road and a number of county roads.
In 1792, the Dublin to Navan coach road was completed and Dunshaughlin was one of the toll gates on this turnpike roads. The Old Toll House is now part of State Solicitor Liam Keane's offices.
Some 200 years later, the village began to develop as a residential centre, as opposed to the service centre it had previously been known as, with more homes and industry appearing.
Dunshaughlin in the 1980s!
From the late 1980s in to the 1990s and beyond, lots of new housing developments grew up around the village, at a nice pace that meant the community became very integrated.
Dunshaughlin has a great many sporting clubs, community organisations and associations, as well as numerous schools, including one of the first Gaelscoileanna in the county. The influx of newer people combined with older families saw Dunshaughlin GFC win three senior county championships in a row at the turn of the millennium, going on to the All-Ireland club-semi-final in 2002.
Development around Dunshaughlin always maintained the original character of the village – with tasteful restoration of the old RC church to become a library, the development of Supple House and the Old Toll House as commercial premises, the maintenance of the Supple Park Piers, and the preservation of old shopfronts like Murray's Pub.
House-building figures in Dunshaughlin settlement since the 1911 Census, from the Central Statistics Office.
In recent years, the addition of a park facility has been a massive boost to the village, while the area was chosen as the location of a new municipal area at Derrockstown as the village cemetery had reached capacity.
Lidl has developed the old saleyard and hotel stables site into a very impressive store, with outlets such as Costa Coffee attached, and the development incorporated the retention and rebuilding of the old stable walls, a landmark in Dunshaughlin since the late 1800s, when visitors arrived via train to Drumree to stay in the neighbouring Fingal Arms Hotel for the hunting season.
When the Boundary Commission redrew local electoral area boundaries before the 2014 local elections, the population bases had swung in favour of Ratoath and Ashbourne, previously two villages in the Dunshaughlin Electoral Area.
Going back to the 1840s, and the introduction of the Poor Law Unions to facilitate the building of workhouses, the Dunshaughlin Union stretched from Garristown to Kilmessan and from Rathfeigh to Dunboyne and Kilmore.
For 2014, the Boundary Commission created two new municipal areas, Ashbourne and Ratoath, dropping the Dunshaughlin name completely as populations exploded in these former villages.
The Meath County Council offices in Dunshaughlin.
Now, Dunshaughlin looks set to reclaim its role as a significant centre.
The news that a major planning application for over 900 residential units is imminent will change the face of Dunshaughlin, and will definitely confer town status on it.
The village already resembles a building site – no matter what way you approach from, as other developments have been completed in recent times.
There are 41 houses at Kellet's Grove, an extension of the Coldrick's Pass residential scheme.
Hanson Wood to the east of the main street comprises 28 units by Loughglynn Developments, who were responsible for the tasteful Seachnall Abbey on the old Delany farm on the Dublin Road.
Grange Park is being developed by Loughglynn at the 'Grainsin' between the Lagore and Ratoath Roads, with 22 houses. Fairfields is a 94-house scheme being developed by Kingscroft developments beside Seachnal Abbey.
Between the main street and Maelduin at the back of the old courthouse, Woodlawn Developments are developing 24 apartments in two blocks.
On the Drumree and Dunsany Road junctions, Castlethorn Developments is building Dún Rioga, a 142- unit residential scheme. Castlethorn has also received planning permission for a revised design for a 177-bedroom hotel at neighbouring Killeen Castle, which will bring another massive boost to the area.
The impending application by the Gem Construction Company will link the entire east side of the village and change the face of Dunshaughlin, as the same company did in Johnstown, Navan, as the original developers there.
Believed to have originally being planning a development of around half the scale of the current one, they resubmitted a new plan towards the end of the year. The lands in question are to the south of Kellett’s Grove and Coldrick’s Pass, to the east of Dunshaughlin Business Park and to the north of their under construction development at The Willows.
The proposed development includes 913 residential units, consisting of 505 houses, 186 duplex units, and 222 apartments, a neighbourhood centre with retail units, a café/restaurant, a primary healthcare/gym, a community facility and a childcare facility, open space, and a section of the Dunshaughlin Outer Relief Road, on 28 hectares.
Dunshaughlin is already planning ahead regarding school places for its new residents – a vote on the patronage of a new primary school in the village is currently taking place, with four interested bodies seeking the running of the new educational establishment, while the state-of-the art new community college is already at capacity, having to seek more temporary accommodation for it 1,000 plus students.
The total population in the Dunshaughlin settlement, which contains most of the village, was 4,035, of which males numbered 2,003 and females were 2,032. The total housing stock was 1,481, of which vacant households (excluding holiday homes) numbered 82.
The imminent increase in population should give a boost to those campaigning for the extension of the Dunboyne to Navan rail link – a station was was earmarked for Dunshaughlin on the original plan, and the growth of the village, as well as ongoing developments in Navan, should put it back on the agenda.
Gem Construction's Willows Development in Dunshaughlin.