The Gaelicised form of Ashbourne is Cill Dhéagláin meaning Church of Saint Declan.
The earliest settlement in the site of modern day Ashbourne was known as “Cill Dheachlain” or Killegland, which gives its name to the present townland.
In 1790 the Dublin Engineer Richard Bourne was commissioned to realign the mail coach road, acquired land and proceeded to develop it and subsequently renamed the settlement Ashbourne by adding the prefix “ash” to his surname.
The village remained as a single street with some ribbon development until the 1970s. During the 1970s, a series of estates at the southern end of the town were built to a design for a “Garden City” by Geoffrey Copcutt.
Present Day Context
Ashbourne has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years, from a small village to become part of the commuter belt of Dublin. Ashbourne is now Meath’s second largest town after Navan and the largest town in the new Meath East Dáil constituency, which elects 3 TDs to the Dáil. This growth is a result of the rapid construction of several new housing schemes – most notably several apartment blocks scattered throughout the town and a number of new housing estates.
A series of shopping streets have been developed as part of a scheme focused on building a new retail centre for the town. Prior to this development, commercial development in the town was stifled given the fact that the town was bisected by a busy national primary route, the N2, on to which all commercial development was focused. This restricted the town’s potential to attract high street retailers due to the lack of suitable sites and associated traffic hazards of the N2. Of the streets developed in Ashbourne’s “new” town centre, Killegland Street, has become a new commercial street containing a number of varied retail units along with a new library and council offices. Bridge Street, an existing street between the Broadmeadow River and the Ashbourne House Hotel, contained just three dwellings and no retail outlets eight years ago and now has five shops, a large hotel, apartments and a supermarket. This is typical of the rapid pace of development in Ashbourne throughout the past decade.
A large retail unit has opened on the former Dardis and Dunnes seed merchant site on the northern end of Frederick/Main Street as part of the Ashbourne Town Centre development and is accessible from both Frederick Street, across from Ashbourne’s original Town Centre and Killegland Square, linking the new retail area to the established town centre.
Ashbourne’s urban form has been transformed over the past decade with the introduction of the new town centre and accompanying access routes. The town was further expanded with the construction of many new residential estates on the outskirts. The scale of the built environment is relatively mixed emphasising the division between the new and old developments.
The standard source for population statistics is the census information published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). During the last recorded block (2002-2006), Ashbourne experienced significant population growth of 34%. During this period there was an increase in the overall population from 6,362 persons to 8,528 persons. An Post Geodirectory data indicates that the current population of Ashbourne 12,153 persons.
Ashbourne is split between two Electoral Divisions with the bulk of the town located within the Donaghmore Electoral Division and the northern environs of the town situated within Kilbrew. It should be noted that the boundaries of both of these divisions extend beyond the development boundary for the town as defined in the map associated with this Local Area Plan. Some of the population characteristics of these two electoral divisions are outlined hereunder.
The population of the Donaghmore and Kilbrew Electoral Divisions is comparatively youthful when compared to the County and the State as a whole. The Donaghmore population has a greater proportion of the population being aged between 10 to 29 years and a lower proportion of the population aged 65 and over while Kilbrew is notable for the significantly greater proportion of its population in the 25-34 age bracket.