Priced out of Greystones? Wicklow town could be the place for you

House hunters who can’t afford Dublin look to Wicklow; Wexford dwellers move in to be closer to Dublin

Wicklow Town. Photograph: Eric Luke

Wicklow Town. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Wicklow town lies just an hour’s drive south from Dublin city centre, past the more well-heeled and visited towns of Bray and Greystones, and deep into the rural environs of the Garden County, and with it the advantage of rural Ireland’s cheaper property prices.

The town is connected to the capital via a regular bus service on the N11, and thrice-daily train service, meaning access to Dublin for commuters is very doable, while not altogether easy.

The town is formed around a working port, into which the river Vartry runs, although the town doesn’t fan out horizontally from the port as is often the case but instead runs parallel to the coastline, via Main Street, with the Vartry running from north to south through Broad Lough before flowing into the Irish Sea. Wicklow town’s residential area expanded in the early 1900s, before a further growth in housing estates in the noughties, which has seen the population grow to close to 11,000, swelling to 15,000 when nearby Rathnew and Glenealy are included.

St Patrick and his crew stopped off in the area as he spread the word of Christianity, and on arrival met a rowdy bunch who didn’t take too kindly to Ireland’s future patron saint, with one of his cohorts having a tooth knocked out in a brawl. Later, St Patrick returned to Wicklow to set up a church which gave the town its Irish name – Cill Mhantáin, the Church of the Toothless One, a name that survives to the present day.

But the town was first recorded by the Greek cartographer Ptolemy in 130AD, as Manapia, using sources obtained from the library of Alexandria in Egypt. The Vikings settled the town, and named it Vykyngelo, before the Normans came and dominated the area for circa 600 years.

People from Gorey are also looking to move up a little further towards Dublin

What’s the housing stock like?

There’s a range of properties in the area including two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, many semi-detached and some bungalows, with a smaller number of apartments. The biggest demand is for two-up, two-down homes, which a year ago were fetching “in the region of €125,000-€130,000, with prices now up around €170,000”, says Eugene Dooley, managing director of Dooley Poynton Auctioneers. A new home will cost in the region of €275,000-€300,000, while older builds tend to offer a lower price tag that is more attractive to first-time buyers. One of the larger, newer-build bungalows along the coast road to Brittas Bay can jump up in price to €450,000.

In the current market, these prices are competitive and offer an opening to first-time buyers.

“People who can’t afford south Dublin are looking down to Wicklow town,” says Dooley. “Shankill, Bray and Greystones are all too expensive for many.”

“We’ve had many buyers who were living along the M50 ring road, but buyers from Killiney, Sandyford, Bray and Greystones are the main interested parties,” says Catherine O’Reilly, managing director of Sherry FitzGerald Wicklow town. “People from Gorey are also looking to move up a little further towards Dublin.”

The attractive prices are bringing in many Irish buyers, but not exclusively so, with a number of Polish, Latvians, Chinese and Indians buying as owner-occupiers. Last year also saw a surge of South African buyers in this area of Co Wicklow.

Wicklow Town. Photograph: Eric Luke
Wicklow Town. Photograph: Eric Luke

What housing stock is currently available?

The variety of housing in Wicklow is excellent, with most price brackets catered for by homes that are largely in good condition.

The entry point to the market is €150,000, which will buy a three-bed, detached house at Kilpoole Hill in need of total renovation. For €100,000 more, there’s a three-bed detached in Wicklow town at 73 Rose Hill. For €255,000 one can buy a three-bed, three-bath, duplex at 58 Highfield Court, with a superb interior, and a location at the northern end of town.

Breaking the €300,000 mark, with an asking price of €315,000, is a four-bed, one-bath bungalow with 100sq m; or a three-bed, one-bath detached with 82sq m, for €320,000. For €20,000 more there’s a four-bed, three-bath semi-detached at 56 Marlton Grove. At €415,000, a four-bed, two-bath cottage, with 175sq m, is available at Cullen Lower. A detached home with bay windows, three-beds and two baths, located centrally in Ardeevin, is asking €495,000.

Near the top end of the market prices generally range between €600,000 and €800,000. The peak of the market currently is a five-bed, four-bath, detached at Ballyara for €850,000.

What new developments are coming to the market?

The demand for properties is high, as it across the country, and there are a number of new developments in the offing.

“The Friary consists of 16 three- and four-bed homes, with one left for sale. The Oak, Seascape, will have 43 units of various types. The Meadows on the Marlton Road will be built over a number of phases with various housing types,” says Dooley.

“Mount Usher Court will have 12 houses, from €350,000 to €450,000. Waverly Field will have 92 homes, predominantly three-bed and semi-detached, with prices from €315,000. A final phase at Burkeen Hall will have 15 units of four- and five-bed semis and detached homes. Planning has also been granted for 271 units at Tinakilly, which should be on-stream within three years,” says O’Reilly.

Education

The other major calling card for the town is education: there are lots of schools and good ones at that and it’s a key factor for many new buyers seeking to relocate to Wicklow. For primary there is an Educate Together school; Gaelscoil Chill Mhantáin; a Church of Ireland primary school; three other national schools; and a Montessori. For secondary there is the Church of Ireland secondary school East Glendalough; a Dominican College; and Coláiste Chill Mhantáin.

The pressure on places is low and the schools are future-built to cater for more students as the town grows.

Getting there

The town is connected to Dublin via the N11, which is a busy artery, especially around Glen of the Downs. The 133 bus runs to Dublin Airport via Dublin city centre, leaving on the hour, and there is also a train line running into Dublin, with three trains daily. More frequency with the trainline would be much desired, as well as a feeder-bus service to ferry commuters to the Dart in Greystones. The lack of both is something of a drawback to Wicklow town, with many of the locals citing transport as the weakest link of being a resident.

Sport and recreation

Wicklow is a town with lot of young families and has a youthful and incredibly friendly vibe. There’s also a wide variety of sporting options including one of the largest sea swimming clubs in the country, Wicklow Swimming Club; Wicklow Tennis Club; Wicklow RFC was the nursery club for Ireland flanker Josh van der Flier, before he went on to play for Wesley College and Leinster; and GAA is strong in town through St Patrick’s GAA, with the club winning the Wicklow Football Championship in 2004, 2006 and 2012.

A town in a county nicknamed the Garden County of Ireland is also bound to have plenty of green space, with a plethora of hiking options near the town, including Glendalough Valley, the Devil’s Glen woods and Druids Glen. Brittas Bay is a short drive away and Silver Strand is regarded as a favourite beach by locals.

Village life

The village centres around Main Street, with a number of side streets leading off it with a wide selection of bars and restaurants: Ernie’s Bar, Whistlers Bar, Phil Healy’s Pub, and Tà Sè, all rank as some of the best watering holes in town. However, this column’s pick of the bars is The Bridge Tavern, run by duty manager Shane Cowell, located right beside a bridge over the river Vartry – the food is excellent, with a bright, modern interior and excellent staff. Wicklow’s Historic Gaol and the Jailers Rest Café and Restaurant, run by Blathnaid Doyle, are both excellent, with the museum worth a visit for a few hours if passing through the town. There is a market for some more upscale restaurants though, with bars catering for the majority of the dining options.

Like most south Dublin and north Wicklow towns, retail can be something of a problem. Charisma Trant, deputy editor of the Wicklow Voice, cites a need “for new shops in the vacant store fronts in the town”, where there are many premises currently lying idle, and which takes away from the generally upbeat vibe of the village centre. There is regeneration happening: a new shoe shop is opening, as well as a new Italian restaurant, and a pedestrianised area is being created in the town, but there is plenty more work to be done.

However, the village has an undeniably quaint charm, and the welcoming embrace of the locals compensates in many ways for the town’s lack of commerce; one of those locals being Sammy the Seal, who jumps out of the water at the harbour at 9am, 2pm and 4pm each day, to be fed by the staff of The Fish Man fishmonger, and has done every day since the shop opened in the harbour in 2012.

Wicklow is the sort of town you might plan to come to for an hour, but like Sammy, end up staying for life.

For sale

Four-bed, one-bath, semi-detached at 21 Dunbur Park, €375,000. Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Catherine O’Reilly.

Five-bed, two-bath, detached house at Villa Mena, €425,000. Agent: Dooley Poynton Auctioneers.

Five-bed, four-bath, detached house at Ballyhara, €850,000. Agent: Clarke Auctioneers.

For rent

Two-bed, one-bath, bungalow at Rosehill, €1,350 a month. Agent: private.

Two-bed, detached, set on lakeside parkland, at The Barn, Ashford, €2,500 a month. Agent: Home Locators.