Hometown Hero: The story of how one man’s field of dreams became a reality.
Setting The Scene: An Eye To The Future
Our story begins over thirty years ago, when home builder Gerry Gannon stood in a field on the rolling farmlands of Clongriffin in north County Dublin and dreamed of the thriving town that he might one day build there. In his mind’s eye, he could see the homes springing up, filled with happy families, but knew that the overall picture would remain incomplete unless he first provided for the essential connections and services that underpin all great towns.
And so he began by constructing a railway station that would serve his new town, followed by a public park and then the town square, complete with the shops and office spaces, that would sit at the heart of this soon-to-be new community. Brick by brick he built the infrastructure from the ground up, before turning his efforts to the houses and apartments that would soon become the family homes of the new millennium.
And the future seemed bright for the new town of Clongriffin.
The Best Laid Plans
But step forward almost twenty years later, to when Gerry invited Islandbridge to work with him and his team, and the picture had changed. Following on the heels of the property recession, which had seen work stall on the development of a number of sites in and around Clongriffin, the new town had apparently lost some of its lustre.
In the intervening years, despite the best efforts of everyone on the ground in Clongriffin, the works-in-progress there had become confused with the abandoned ghost estates that dotted the countryside elsewhere, and the town was mistakenly seen by many who had never visited as unplanned and off the map, disconnected, unfinished and uncared for.
And although nothing could have been further from the truth, these perceptions threatened both the social and economic well-being of the town.
And so a new story had to be told.
Seen Through Fresh Eyes
In order to better understand the hopes and dreams of both Gerry and his team, alongside the thousands of families who had made Clongriffin their home, Islandbridge asked the question: ‘What would you like people to say in ten years about life in Clongriffin?’
As well as speaking with the team at Gannon Homes, Islandbridge visited with the home and shop owners, the school teachers, sports coaches and park rangers, and the community leaders and groups of Clongriffin and heard of their heartfelt wish that Clongriffin would become a real ‘hometown, a great place to live, work and visit’.
People spoke of the many wonderful things about their life in Clongriffin: their pride in the community, the remarkable green spaces of Fr. Collins’ Park, the proximity to the city and the sea and the convenience of the bus, train and airport services. Some described Clongriffin as a ‘best-kept secret’, a great place to call home, and somewhere they saw themselves living happily for many years to come.
And they spoke too of the continued commitment of Gannon Homes to Clongriffin, through the good and not so good times, with one householder telling of how she heard a knock on her front door shortly after moving into her new home, and was surprised to find Gerry Gannon standing there and asking if everything was in order for her and her family. Here was a developer who truly cared.
In hearing their stories, Islandbridge understood that what Gerry and Gannon Homes had created was a place with ‘the intimacy of village life, and the opportunities of a town’.
Meet The New Neighbours
So how might the people of Clongriffin tell a more compelling story to the wider world? Understanding that the great brands bridge a gap by standing for the relationship between the people on both sides, Islandbridge set out to identify what the ideal resident might look like now and into the future.
Considering the happy residents they had met, they pictured a professional couple, she from overseas and working nearby in Swords, he from Dublin and commuting to the city, ready to settle down and start a family, looking for a town to call home. Somewhere that they might confidently commit their future alongside Gannon Homes, remembering that such a couple is likely to invest over €600K into their local community during the twenty years or so of raising their family.
Islandbridge considered the others who would be attracted to live, work and visit alongside this ideal customer, and saw that retailers and business-owners who were themselves innovative, engaging, open-minded, civic-spirited, future-oriented and female-led / family-friendly would be a great match for this couple and their children.
And as they mapped out this future further, they saw that what all of these customers had in common was their wish for a place that they could call ‘Our Hometown’, a great place to live, work or visit.
A Bird’s Eye View
And so Islandbridge set out with the Community Builder, Gannon Homes to tell this new heart-warming story.
First, they engaged with the team at Dynamo to create a new identity for Clongriffin, linking the familiar figure of the Brent Goose, which winters each year in their thousands nearby, and can be seen in Fr. Collins’ Park or in the skies overhead, a frequent and welcome visitor to Dublin’s northside.
They completed the identity with the small but all-important addition of the word ‘Town’ and sketched it out in the warm colours of traditional brick (rather than the often corporate or soulless shades of many urban identities).
Then, recognising that many people, including residents, struggled to picture the town in the context of the wider community, they mapped Clongriffin Town, presenting a wider view to the world, complete with interactive search functions, to be included in the new website ClongriffinTown.ie , so that those who wished to live, work and visit might do so easily and confidently.
They then turned their attention to the residents, retailers, employers and sports clubs and schools, to help create a highly-networked community that would come together to celebrate the changes of seasons and the events that mark the lives of their fast-growing town.
So what’s the picture look like now for Gerry Gannon’s new town?
Once again, the future is shining bright for Gannon Homes and for the people of Clongriffin Town.
As more homes are completed, new shops and services are being added to the thriving main street and town centre, and the buzz of community is even more palpable than ever as people flock to live, work and visit their new hometown.
Thirty years later, one man’s dream has now become a well-built reality.
“We knew we were building something special here in Clongriffin Town, but struggled to get the message out to the wider world.
Thanks to Islandbridge and their work together with all of us here in the town, we’ve been able to map out an exciting and prosperous future for everyone who is looking to choose the right place to live, to work or to visit.”
Jim Kenny, Clongriffin Town Team Leader, Gannon Homes
Project Leadership: Gerry Gannon and Jim Kenny of Gannon Homes
Brand Direction: Gerard Tannam of Islandbridge
Visual Identity: Dynamo
Website & Social Media: Together Digital