IN…WICKLOW : Great for sports, schools and seaside pursuits, Wicklow town is, however, sadly lacking in many other areas, says Paul O’Doherty
CLOSE TO the sea and in the countryside, Wicklow town with its friendly people, nearness to the capital and easy-going quality of life has been one of the most attractive addresses in the Dublin commuter belt in recent years. But, despite houses eing well below prices 40kms further north, the town, blessed with sporting associations, is missing some key essentials.
The issues concern the lack of community centre, theatre or cinema, the town’s poor bus service, its merciless commute to and from the metropolis, and the number of the town’s smaller shops that have closed their doors for good. There’s a seasonal feel to the town. All summer long it booms with visitors from Brittas and beyond. In winter it’s a good deal quieter.
How’s the market?
Prices generally down 10 per cent but that probably says more about vendors’ stubbornness and buyers’ lack of commitment to a serious offer than actual sales where that figure cannot be confirmed with anything suggesting a trend.
James Gormley Auctioneers’ James Gormley says: “It’s down across the board, as much as 15 to 20 per cent, with offers still being made in the smaller first-time market.”
Dooley Poynton’s Eugene Dooley says sales are very slow, particularly at the top-end over €400,000, with the €300,000 to €350,000 limit doing very well".
Re/Max Garden County’s Ann Morrissey says “it’s not as bad as it’s made out, and there is great value for first-time buyers”, while Douglas Newman Good Phelan’s Ruth Henderson says “we’re finding it ok, although some houses are taking a little more time to sell, if at all”.
There is plenty for sale, both in the town, and on the outskirts where clusters of estates have sprung up in the last five years. A one-bed end-terrace house at New Street costs €199,000, while a two-bed apartment with parking close to everything at Wentworth Hall is €260,000 (down €60,000 after eight months). Around a similar price at €250,000 (down €40,000 after four months) is a two-bed mid-terrace house at Kilmantin Hill.
A spacious three-bed at Wicklow Heights is €350,000 (down about €45,000 from what it would have achieved 18 months ago). Similarly, there’s a three-bed semi overlooking a large green at Broomhall Court at €330,000 (already down €52,000). Hamlin Farm, a detached split-level house on 0.25 acres with great views, is €630,000 (down from €750,000 seven months ago), At the Friars Hill estate, a four-bed detached house, that visually looks as if it’s been designed by my six-year-old nephew, is €795,000 (down €35,000 after six months). It too has good sea views.
And to rent?
Re/Max Garden County’s Ann Morrissey says: “It’s still very good at the moment but not as strong as it was, due to the jobs going out of the construction sector and a lot of Polish people going home.”
Eugene Dooley sees it as “quite buoyant although people are looking for an awful lot more for their bread and butter”.
With one-beds scarce, a two-bed apartment at Wentworth Hall, close to everything, costs €1,000 a month. A bright three-bed house at Marlton Grove is €1,200 a month, while a four-bed dormer within walking distance of the town is €1,250 a month. Six bedrooms at Ballynerrin Lower, with sea views, is yours for €2,500 a month.
Donellis at the top of the town is good for lunch and coffee. Good pubs such as Phil Healy’s and Erne’s and Square Steakhouse, Casa Pepe and The Leitrim Lounge, among others, have their advocates, but top-quality sadly lacking.
Price of a pint
€4 in Phil Healy’s.
Good for families?
Long way to the children’s hospital. Schools have places at both primary and secondary, but and there is crèche availability at Allish Magee Childminding at €200 a week full-time.
What’s to do?
GAA, soccer, swimming, sailing, tennis or golf. Wicklow Gaol reopens for the season on St Patrick’s weekend, unlike many shops which have closed recently for good. And there’s no cinema, community centre or theatre.
Home to . . .
St Patrick’s GAA club and Wicklow Tennis Club.
“If your children aren’t into sports, there’s nothing for them” (Annabelle Wright).
“With the traffic, the shops closing down and nothing to do, Wicklow is going off the planet” (Teresa Carmody).
“As a Dublin girl, it’s got everything I want - well located, a better lifestyle and great for the kids. I’ll never go back” (Virginia Delaney).
“It has two of my favourite shops - the Bridge Street Bookshop (Hamilton’s) and Frankie Sports” (Ben Mason, Wicklow Wine Company).
“There are more fellas in this town working down holes in the street than you’d get in Calcutta” (Jem Byrne).