What’s so good about it?
Now that Dublin's commuter belt has expanded its parameters, house-hunters are moving even farther from the city centre in search of affordable homes. Wicklow town appears to be an increasingly popular option for those priced out of Bray or Greystones. With a number of new housing developments coming on stream, Wicklow town has a young population that live alongside locals of several generations' standing.
Wicklow town is a settled, thriving coastal town. Its neighbouring villages are set in some of the most stunning countryside in Ireland. The town is about 50km from Dublin and linked by the M11, working out at a one-hour drive from Dublin with a train service that takes a little over an hour to get to the city centre. Brittas Bay, not to mention Wicklow's mountains, rivers and natural beauty spots, are all easily accessible from there. Compared with the more prohibitive price tags in the city, Wicklow town offers a wider selection of family homes within amenities and leisure clubs. An engaged community means there's always something to look forward to in the calendar, from the Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race to the ever-popular Taste of Wicklow (although these events, given the current climate, have yet to be confirmed for this year).
Given the town’s prime location and proximity to the mountains, a broad spectrum of sports are catered for, including tennis at the town’s long-established club, sailing, yoga, hill-walking and kickboxing. Add in a selection of golf clubs and the good life is pretty much waiting to be enjoyed. In summer the town is boosted by the hundreds of families flocking to coastal holiday homes and mobile home parks, bringing business to the shops, pubs and cafes.
What’s not so good?
Locals note that transport serving the area could improve; trains to Dublin are thrice daily and don’t run at night, and bus services can be unpredictable. Traffic is, in the words of one resident “horrific, in capital letters, underlined”. With no cinema or theatre in the area, culture vultures need to make their way farther north for entertainment. Teenagers who are not fans of the great outdoors may find that their recreational options somewhat limited. The short holiday season makes it difficult for some businesses to survive outside the summer months.
Where and what to buy?
The town offers a mix of terraced period homes both on and leading off the main street, and a high volume of modern homes on estates on the outskirts of town.
Numbero 45 Pebble Way (€470,000, via Sherry Fitzgerald) is a great opportunity to buy a well-appointed and substantial family home, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
95 Rosehill (€255,000, via Dooley & Poynton), within a quiet development is a three-bedroom, one-bathroom bungalow in need of some TLC, but has views of the Wicklow coastline.
A first-time buyer in the market for a two-bed doer-upper might find plenty to like at 31 The Anchorage at Wicklow Harbour (€170,000, via Fenelon Properties), not least the stunning views over Wicklow Bay.
With a price tag of €375,000 (via Sherry Fitzgerald), 3 Springfield offers 137 square metres of living space in a three-bed, three-bath semi-detached house that's pretty much ready to hang your hat in.
Where and what to rent?
We’ve recently seen two-bedroom houses – with sea views, no less – on the rental market for about €1,200 a month. Expect to pay about €1,500 for a three-bed property close to the Main Street.
Where to eat and drink?
(Please note that these premises are closed for the foreseeable future, due to coronavirus regulations.)
Looking for a comfortable local pub? You’ll no be left wanting. The Bridge Tavern on Bridge Street is located next to the river Vartry and boasts a welcoming staff and comfortable interior. Ernie’s Bar (Market Square), Phil Healy’s (Fitzwilliam Square) and Tá Sé’s (1 Market Street) are also hugely popular with residents. The Jailer’s Rest Cafe is another great food spot. In terms of cafes and restaurants, there are heaps of great spots, including the Lighthouse Restaurant at South Quay (for wonderful seafood), Halpin’s Bridge Cafe on Bridge Street for a hearty breakfast, and the Vital Health Cafe on Fitzwilliam Road for healthy sustenance.
Who lives there?
Some 40 per cent of those living in Wicklow town are couples with children. Myhome.ie puts the age breakdown of the area as follows: 25 per cent under 16; 26 per cent 16-34; 24 per cent 35-49; 15 per cent 50-64; and 10 per cent over 65.
Good for families?
Locals note that there good schools in the town. Primary school children in the area usually attend the local Educate Together school (multidenominational, mixed), Gaelscoil Chill Mhantáin (multidenominational, mixed), Holy Rosary School (Catholic, mixed) or Glebe National School (Church of Ireland, mixed). On the secondary school front, options include East Glendalough (Church of Ireland, mixed), Coláiste Chill Mhaintáin (multidenominational, mixed) and Dominican College Wicklow Town (Catholic, girls).
Getting there and getting around
Wicklow town's main routes include the M50 motorway, which connects Bray and Dublin, and the N11, which connects Wexford and Dublin city. Wicklow town also has an Irish Rail station on the Wexford to Dublin line.
The 133 bus runs to Dublin Airport via Dublin city centre, leaving on the hour, and the Wexford Express bus from Dublin to Wexford also serves the town.
What do locals say?
"I'm a blow-in, but I bought an ex-council house in the town, with a view of the sea, at the right time. I have lovely neighbours – the townspeople are all salt of the earth. There are lots of new blow-ins coming, though, as there are lots of new housing developments up as far as Rathnew.
"The town itself is gorgeous, like something out of Postman Pat, with winding streets, great bars and restaurants, and a lovely bookshop. I sea swim three times a week at a little cove called Black Castle. I love it, and the dogs love it. In the summer there are pontoons in the sea for the kids to use. In winter you have the whole beach to yourself." – Tina Noonan, playwright.