Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare is developer Sean Mulryan’s home turf. He loves the place so much that he named the company that he with his wife, Bernadine, co-founded 40 years ago after the pretty village.
And what a charming spot it is. Situated just west of Co Wicklow’s lakelands, almost at its border, it was one of the walled towns of the English Pale and is postcard picture perfect.
Film crews have zoomed in on its photogenic qualities with one already operating a production office from the Hub, a co-working space on the square, also built by Ballymore Property.
Shooting of their film, The Christmas Break, is due to begin next week. It stars Dubliner India Mullen, of Red Rock, Women on the Verge and blockbuster Normal People fame, and American Justin Long, who starred in Dodgeball and who also voiced Alvin in the kids film Alvin and the Chipmunks.
River Walk, just off main street, is the firm’s first new home development in the village since 1982. Back then Sean and Bernadine used their own home as a showhouse and when they had buyers come to view would have to go out for the day, daughter Linda Mulryan recalls. She is now on board as the company’s deputy managing director and, having grown up there, understands its attractions. “One of the biggest selling points here is the village lifestyle and the sense of community,” she says.
The site fronts onto main street where it does exactly what architect and planners have been trying to do for years – it revitalises empty or derelict elements to inject the village with a new sense of life.
This new estate is bang in the centre of the action. If you need a pint of milk, all you have to do is nip across a bridged stream and head up the town, an on-foot journey time of less than five minutes. Amenities are literally on its doorstep. The national school is across the road and when complete the development will include a medical centre, with a GP and a pharmacy, and a creche, services for many of life’s stages.
Extending to almost 13 acres River Walk also overlooks the River Liffey. When complete it will comprise about 80 units.
The look of the homes demonstrate fresh thinking too. Instead of cutting edge contemporary architecture on which Ballymore has built its reputation, this development takes inspiration from Sean Mulryan’s Roscommon roots. Situated less than a kilometre from Mulryan’s own home, Ardenode Stud, the homes have country town look to them.
It’s an interesting move, fitting for an estate smack bang in the middle of the village but a full tilt away from the sleek modernism of the company’s London developments. Sky Pool, for instance, is a glass swimming pool suspended, 10 storeys up, and used as a bold way to link two blocks at Embassy Gardens in the UK capital.
Launching now are 20 new homes, a mix of two, three and four-bedroom units. The two-beds are built to resemble Irish vernacular houses. They have a limewash look exterior and resemble, in a way, to Sean’s own homestead in Oran, Co Roscommon, which had a thatch roof. Instead of straw, these homes feature a farmyard red, corrugated steel roof.
It is unexpected but the Mulryan family have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to trends. And here in this country setting cottagecore very much fits in.
Inside the single-story units which come in semi and detached options and range from 88sq m (947sq ft) to 95sq m (1,027 sq ft), it’s a mash-up of old and new that, after a decade of cool contemporary looks, feels quite fresh.
These are A2-rated abodes that have been staged for sale with a mix of contemporary and homely pieces; a Belfast-style sink in the kitchen, a worn-down butcher block as an island and a farmer’s kitchen-style table surrounded by a mix of bench and chair seating. The interior has been overseen by the builder’s own team led by Neil Keating and Number 10 Design using local suppliers where possible. Likely to pique interest from both traders down and smaller families, prices range from €400,000 to €440,000 through Newbridge-based estate agent CME New Homes.
The architectural design throughout is in keeping with the 19th century townhouses already in the village.
The three and four-beds have smaller windows than a lot of contemporary builds and some are painted in the kind of bright colours you might see on a main street in any market town. These range from an iris blue to fuchsia red and rapeseed yellow.
In these, the units have smart layouts so that many of the semi-detached units are dual aspect and have a separate utility room. The smaller window size also gives you additional wall space, a boon for hanging artwork and open shelving.
The most desirable houses in River Walk will be the contemporary detached four-beds that overlook the river. Prices for these are expected to start at about €675,000.
But pricing is keener for most of the other homes. The rest of the four-beds will be priced at €495,000-€535,000 and in size from about 174sq m (1875sq ft) to 178sq m (925sq ft).
There is limited availability of three-bed units. Measuring about 112sq m (1,200sq ft), they are expected to start at about €430,000. While there isn’t a showhouse for this style, both three and four-beds have cool, putty-pink kitchens with white quartz countertops, fashionable brass fixtures and mainly Candy appliances. The homes are warmed by air to water electric heat pump systems and feature radiators at both levels.