Many people outside Ireland will never have heard of Portlaoise. But this down-at-heel old midlands town — best known these days for its maximum-security prison — is remarkable for two reasons.
Last summer it was added to a list, now 39-strong, of property hotspots across Ireland dubbed “rent pressure zones”. These are locations where rents are high and rising, and where affordable housing is in short supply. (In response, the government has imposed a ceiling on rent increases of 4 per cent a year.)
This is extraordinary: Portlaoise, like most of the other locations on the “overheated” list, is no metropolis. It isn’t a magnet for the tech sector. It hasn’t been swamped with hordes of inward investment or new jobs. It is just a town of 20,000 ordinary people where homes are very expensive.
And that, partly at least, explains a second noteworthy fact about Portlaoise. In last weekend’s
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