To Matt, and especially 'wondering'.
Matt - if you don't get to do Architecture in Ireland you could always try somewhere in Britain. E.G. Cardiff University - it has a high rating (4 star) for its arch. dept. and Cardiff is easily reached by Ryannair -Dublin to Cardiff 'international' airport. Flight time about 40 minutes -tickets in/around Â£65 rtn.
Wondering - I agree with you that planners should be 'design aware', lets not get into the argument about planners been the arbiters of good taste though!
If you apply to the MRUP (as UCD are prone to calling their course) and don't get in. consider Cardiff.
It has about 30 teaching staff, Phd researchers, general researchers, and others doing work in the area of 'planning'.
It has 2 undergrad and 4/5 postgrad planning, houseing, and sustainability courses. The dept. has a 5* rating and i think it is meant to be the 'best' planning research dept. in Britain.
You could also have the opportunity to indulge in your interest in architecture here as the dept. is just beside the architects place.
In the MRUP equivelant course here (masters in City and Regional Planning) urban design/architecture modules are availible in the first year and in the second year of the course a specialism has to be chosen, and one of these is 'urban Design' (in one of the modules you'll work with 5th year architects).
There is another Irish person in my year (MSc 2 city and regional Planning) and one in the year below me and there had been 2 i believe before i arrived so they're used to an Irish contingent here.
I have been told by planners (in Irl) that a course over here should be fine for getting a job in Ireland as long as you scratch up on Irish Planning law before you start job hunting in ernest.
One year of an Msc. costs Â£2,750 stg. so over 3 grand irish.
Look at the web site for loads of info on the courses here and biographies of the staff - see especially the biographies of Prof. John Punter and Mike Biddulf for architecture /urban design / planning
& for planning stuff www.planning.haynet.com
Hope this is helpfull.
p.s. No student here walks more than 20 minutes to any lecture department and accomadation is fairly easy to find and relatively cheap (Â£45 stg. p/w excluding bills is a fairly common price for a room in a house).