Like most big cities, Dublin has a number of areas that the average person would consider “rough” or “dangerous”. Of course, what a person considers dangerous can be fairly subjective. However, there are certain parts of Ireland’s capital city that do have a bad reputation. In most cases, this is due to anti-social activity.
It is important to note that an area can get a bad reputation because of one or two housing estates. For example, Finglas is a large suburb that has over 30,000 people living in it. It consists of multiple neighbourhoods. In this case, the “rough” areas are in “pockets”. One street may be completely peaceful while another estate a few blocks down could have a small minority of residents who engage in anti-social activity.
Having said that, this is a list of the areas in Dublin that have picked up a bad reputation over the years. Note that these are NOT ranked in order, as crime data is generally not released on a per-neighbourhood basis. Therefore, there is no way to discern which place is the worst.
Darndale is an area in the Northside of Dublin that has a large number of social housing. It started off as a housing experiment. The experiment involved creating 3,000 low-rise social houses with communal courts, which were supposed to foster “neighbourly bonds”. However, the designers failed to take into account how large Irish working class families could be at the time. Furthermore, many of the amenities that this new “suburban paradise” was supposed to have simply failed to materialize.
As a result, the project resulted in hundreds of bored youths with nothing to do – all crammed into a social housing estate on the outskirts of Dublin.
Not before long, the courts became a haven for anti-social activity and Darndale turned into a ghetto. Nowadays, the area is dogged by criminal activity. Only recently, a report by former Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan stated that Darndale needed more of a police presence. According to Nolan’s report, gangland criminals in Darndale are using intimidation tactics against residents in order to control the drugs trade in the area.
Recent incident: In May of 2019, Jordan Davis was shot dead in a gangland hit in Darndale as he was walking with his four-month-old child.
Jobstown is located in Tallaght, which is a suburb in the south west of Dublin. Like Darndale, Jobstown is an example of what can happen when you build large swathes of social housing with no amenities or social structures. On the Internet, you will find anecdotal tales about fast food restaurants refusing to deliver to certain areas in Jobstown due to robberies and assaults.
On three occasions in February of 2020, Dublin Bus were forced to suspend night routes in the area due to anti-social activity.
A survey in 2017 found that the drugs trade was the single biggest concern among residents living in the area.
In 2018, following heavy snowfall, a LIDL supermarket in Jobstown was destroyed by a stolen JCB digger. A group of people then looted the supermarket.
The area has also been in the news because of drugs seizures. Gardai discovered €700,000 worth of heroin at a house in the Bawnlea housing estate in Jobstown back in July of 2019.
The murder of Adam Muldoon (23) took place in Butler’s Park in Jobstown in June of 2018. Muldoon, who was homeless and suffering from cerebral palsy, received over 150 stab wounds.
There have also been reports of attacks on taxi drivers in the area. One taxi driver suffered broken teeth and bruises after his passengers attacked him and robbed him.
Finglas has picked up a bad reputation over the years because of criminality and anti-social activity in pockets of the suburb. However, it is important to note that Finglas encompasses a large area and that there are plenty of estates that are perfectly fine. In fact, I would say that most places in Finglas are perfectly fine.
Generally speaking, trouble occurs in small pockets.
In saying that, at the time of writing, some of the cheapest houses that I could find in Dublin were located in Finglas. In both the past and present, the suburb has been home to a number of organised crime members and gangs.
Generally speaking, it’s the southern and western parts of Finglas that seem to have a bad reputation for being rough. In 2018, Finglas West and Blanchardstown (Dublin West) had the third-highest crime rate in the capital.
Recently, Dublin Bus had to divert the 40E route in Finglas due to anti-social activity. The route in question goes through Finglas West. This is not the first time that this has happened, either. At the start of 2020, Dublin Bus suspended two bus stops in Finglas West due to similar behaviour.
In February, 2016, the gangland shooting of 25-year-old Vincent Ryan took place in Finglas. In January, 2014, an assault at a house party in Wellmount Road in Finglas led to the death of Vincent Maher.
There have also been complaints of drug abuse in the area. One Finglas resident stated that the situation was getting out of hand and that you could find people openly abusing drugs in any park in the area at any time of the day.
Ballymun became notorious known for its high-rise tower blocks, which were a planning disaster. It serves as yet another example of what can happen when you build a large amount of public housing in one spot with little or no amenities.
It did not take long before the flats became a breeding ground for anti-social activity and drug abuse.
In 2015, the last of the tower blocks were demolished. However, their reputation still lives on.
Although Ballymun does seem to be improving, it still has its fair share of problems. Drug abuse is still prevalent in the area, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I don’t think anyone believed that knocking down the tower blocks would magically eliminate every problem from the suburb.
Anti-social elements also exist in the area. Only recently, there were reports of a mass brawl between gangs of teenagers from Ballymun and Finglas.
The area can also be a litter black spot. In 2019, Ballymun received one of the worst litter ratings from An Tasice since their ranking system began.
Recently, an online video showed a man firing a machine gun on the streets of Ballymun. The man in question received a 15 year sentence for the incident.
In 2018, there were news reports that crack cocaine dealers in the area were using pre-teens as part of their network. The year before that, two innocent people lost their lives in a botched gangland shooting in Balbutcher Drive.
All in all, the suburb still has a number of issues with anti-social behaviour.
Sheriff Street is located in the north inner city of Dublin. In the past, it had a terrible reputation because of its high crime rate. This was mostly due to the heroin epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.
However, since then, its reputation has slightly improved.
In saying that, Sheriff Street still has a number of issues with anti-social activity and crime. Last year, in 2019, Dublin council employees had to receive garda protection while they were working in the area. This was due to threatening and abusive behaviour that they had received.
Locals have also complained about how a significant drug problem exists in the area.
In 2018, gardai raided a house on Sheriff Street and seized a revolver and cocaine. In 2016, the gangland shooting of Michael Barr took place in the area.
Reports also suggest that the area can be a litter black spot and that gangs of youths will drive around on scramblers. Note that it is Sheriff Street Lower that seems to have a bad reputation for being rough. The Upper part is considered by most people to be a lot quieter.
In general, the north inner city can be a bit dodgy. Especially at night.
Ballyfermot is a suburb in the west of Dublin. Generally speaking, it doesn’t have a great reputation.
Last month, a gangland shooting took the life of a 50-year-old man in the Croftwood Park area of Ballyfermot.
The suburb also has issues with youths engaging in anti-social activity. Only recently, an online video surfaced of a boarded-up house after being set on fire:
Bus drivers have also reported incidents of threatening behaviour and stone throwing.
According to most people I’ve spoken to, it’s the Cherry Orchard area of Ballyfermot that seems to have the worst reputation.
In 2019, there was an “upsurge” of anti-social behaviour among youths. This led to increased patrols by gardai, who warned residents not to engage with the gangs.
In particular, it seems that the suburb becomes worse around Halloween. One resident described Halloween in Ballyfermot as a “hell hole”, with youths launching fireworks at houses.
The suburb of Clondalkin is in the south-west of Dublin. The general consensus is that areas such as Bawnogue and Neilstown in Clondalkin have a bad reputation for anti-social behaviour.
In 2018, construction on a housing site in Clondalkin was halted after builders refused to work due to threats of violence.
Last year, Dublin Bus had to stop their service five times in two weeks after vandals near Neilstown threw stones and set off fireworks near passing buses.
News reports from 2016 show that many of the estates in north Clondalkin were dealing with issues such as street fighting, drug dealing and shootings. Gangs of youths causing disturbances was also a problem.
In 2019, a video of youths shooting a firework at a cyclist on the Grand Canal Greenway in Clondalkin went viral:
The Clondalkin Neighbourhood Watch page on Facebook also contains stories about groups of teenagers breaking into cars and then laughing after being told to leave.
Other areas in Dublin that people consider rough.
A list of other areas in Dublin that people consider “rough” or “dangerous”:
- Certain estates in Tallaght. However, Tallaght is so big that it’s basically a city in itself.
- Mountjoy on the north side of the city can be a bit ropey at times. Especially around the park. This includes the likes of Summerhill, which can be dodgy at night.
- The area around the Guinness storehouse. This is known as The Liberties.
- Parts of Inchicore, which is a small suburb to the west of the city centre.
- Parts of Rialto and Dolphin’s Bar on the south side of the inner city.
- Certain estates in Blanchardstown can be a bit rough at times. However, like Tallaght, Blanch is a pretty big place!
Are there any “no-go” areas in Dublin?
Personally, I do not think so. In the vast majority of cases, you will be able to pass through these areas without being attacked or robbed or hassled. If you are from a big city, then you probably already know the deal. Keep your head down, hide your valuables and try not to stick out. Avoid dark areas, parks and alleyways and stick to the main streets. If you have a choice, avoid some of these areas at night, as that is when you tend to have gangs of youths hanging around. Especially on weekend nights, when alcohol is more likely to have been consumed.
“Place X isn’t so bad.”
I often hear this kind of comment and it’s usually from someone who is from the area and “fits in“. That, or they have knowledge about the area and know the exact places to avoid.
For example, there are plenty of estates that I would personally walk through without feeling intimidated. However, I still wouldn’t recommend it to an American tourist or someone else who is likely to draw attention. I still wouldn’t recommend that someone buy a house there or rent there if there are other options available.
You and I may not feel intimidated by groups of youths loitering outside of shops. However, there are people out there who will feel intimidated by this. Furthermore, these people may stick out more than you or I and end up drawing their attention.
You’ll also have people saying things such as “most places in X are fine!” And that’s probably true. However, this guide is for “outsiders” who don’t know the area and are far more likely to take a wrong turn.
Although many of these areas have a bad reputation for being rough or dangerous, it is not that simple. We are talking about large suburban areas here and each estate can be different than the next. The majority of the people who live in these places are hardworking family people. It is usually tends to be a minority of troublemakers who drag the area down.
You also have to take into account that an estate can be pretty bad without being technically located in any of these suburbs. Instead, it could be located on the outskirts of the suburb. For example, a street on the edges of Darndale could be less pleasant to live in than a street that is actually in Darndale.
To make matters even more confusing, areas can go through transformations, as the youths who initially gave the area a bad name will sometimes grow up and become model citizens.
If you are thinking about living in an estate in Dublin, then I would suggest that you visit it during the day and at night on a weekend. Signs that the area might be a bit rough:
- Gangs of youths are hanging around.
- There are youths driving around on scrambler motorbikes.
- Horses are roaming around on the green or in people’s front gardens.
- Boarded-up houses.
- There is a lot of litter.
- The rent or price of the house you’re looking at is much cheaper than houses in other areas.
- There are signs that fires have been lit in the area.
If an area is ticking some of the boxes above, then I would be cautious about living there.
If you think I have missed a place or you would like to add some information of your own, feel free to post a comment below.