Blessington Co Wicklow is a lakeside gem with easy access to bright city lights
Outdoor pursuits, lots of fresh air and the dual benefits of small town life coupled with urban proximity mean a lot of people are waking up to Blessington as a brilliant place to set up home
Blessington is 25km from Dublin city centre, a journey of about 30 minutes or so on the N81, traffic dependent. Illustration: Aoife Dooley
Blessington is the Co Wicklow village that feels like a Dublin suburb – in the best way possible. Easily accessible from Dublin, the village is famous for its location on Poulaphouca reservoir – or as it’s locally know, Blessington Lake. In recent years the town has become a top choice for commuters looking to put down roots without breaking the proverbial bank.
Communications director Mark Kilbride moved here at the age of 19, when his parents – or, rather, his mum – decided they were ready to move out of Dublin. “My dad was actually in Manchester at the time, watching a Manchester United match,” he recalls. “When he came back, my mother had sold the house!” Kilbride has lived in Blessington, on and off, ever since.
“It was very much a village when we moved,” he says. “It's more of a small town now, with a Dunnes, an Aldi… there was just a SuperValu in the village, when we moved. It's developed really quickly in about 10 years.”
Between 2002 and 2016, Blessington’s population more than doubled, going from 2,509 to 5,520 – and with a crunch on both availability and price in the city, it has become even more attractive for those who need space to raise a family, want urban proximity and easy access to the outdoors.
Best of both worlds
The most obvious draw of this lakeside village is the lifestyle it offers. Close enough to Tallaght, Naas and Dublin city centre to feel connected, it has also maintained an enviable sense of village charm and, of course, you're never more than five minutes from a stunning lakeside walk or hillside ramble.
“There are some brilliant hiking spots around the lake,” says Kilbride. “If you're into hill walking or hiking, there's a place called Black Lake that's really popular – and Poulaphouca reservoir is really nice for a walk, too.”
How do I get there?
Google Maps says that Blessington is 25km from Dublin city centre, a journey of about 30 minutes or so on the N81, traffic dependent. If you're on the bus, that'll be the 65 – which goes from Dublin city centre via Rathmines, Templeogue, Terenure and Tallaght, on to Blessington, and takes about an hour each way. It's about a 20-minute drive from both Tallaght, on the Dublin side, and Naas, if you're coming from Kildare.
Primaries in the area include Blessington Educate Together National School, St Mary's Junior National School and No. 1 School, while there's St Brigid's National School in Manor Kilbride, Gaeilscoil na Lochanna in Kilmalum, as well as Valleymount National School and Lacken National School.
In terms of secondary schools, the 65 bus route makes Templeogue and Terenure an option, which opens up St Mac Daras, Terenure College and Our Ladies as possibilities. In the other direction, Naas CBS (boys-only) and Naas Convent (girls) offer school bus services picking up from Blessington, as does the Cross and Passion College in nearby Kilcullen. Right in Blessington, you've got Blessington Community College and, for adults, there's Blessington Further Education.
Where's good to live?
The Carter's Hill development offers a slice of luxe life – this exclusive, gated group of only six homes is private and secure. Meanwhile, the attractive brick-fronted residences of Burgage Manor are always in demand; right on the edge of the village, straddling the Wicklow-Kildare border, it's the perfect location for those who need to have easy access to Naas and Tallaght, while also being within walking distance of all of the amenities the village has to offer. Beechdale Close is another popular choice, close to schools and the Blessington Greenway.
Things to do
The residents and entrepreneurs of Blessington have truly embraced the village's lakeshore status by offering a plethora of outdoor pursuits that will be perfect for families and anyone who enjoys outdoor exercise.
Right on your doorstep, you've got Poulaphouca reservoir itself, 5,500 acres of water offering stunning drives and walks. The Blessington Greenway walk links Blessington village to Russborough House, one of Ireland's best preserved stately homes – and an excellent place to grab a coffee and a scone. For culturephiles, Russborough is architecturally beautiful, offering both guided and self-guided tours of the house itself, which is full of incredible artworks.
Back outside, we have Kippure Adventure Centre, in Manor Kilbride, just outside Blessington Village – where orienteering, archery, climbing and clay shooting are on offer, while Blessington Sailing School has sailing courses for all ages throughout the summer months.
Dine out options
Kilbride declares Avon Ri resort, “the best spot, where you can get a pizza from the Big Blue Pizza Bus”, which had a previous incarnation in back yard area of the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin city centre. The Texas BBQ Bus also drops by between Thursdays and Sundays, and there's Walker's Cafe and the Library Bar belonging to The Avon itself.
For something a little less outdoorsy, there's Crafternoon Tea, on the Main street, which serves up freshly baked goods in an adorably kitschy, wallpapered dining room, while West Wicklow House is one of the most often recommended for grub and a gargle.
As for Kilbride, his tastes run towards the traditional. “Dempsey's does an amazing bag of chips,” he advises. “It is run by Mick Dempsey, who is a character – he makes the chips himself and wraps them up in newspaper. I don't think it's changed since the 70s – it's the real deal.”
Making a move
Catherine O'Connell is Bank of Ireland’s mortgage manager for Co Wicklow and can talk to you about your personalised mortgage plan, arrange a meeting via phone, FaceTime or in-branch, adhering to social distancing regulations.
Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank trading as Bank of Ireland Mortgages is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
The lender is Bank of Ireland Mortgages. Lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. Over 18s only. Mortgage approval is subject to assessment of suitability and affordability. You mortgage your property to secure the loan. We require property and life insurance. Maximum loan is generally 3.5 times gross annual income and 80% of the property value (90% of the property value for first time buyers). A typical mortgage of €100,000 over 20 years with 240 monthly instalments costs €615.79 per month at 4.2% variable (Annual Percentage Rate of Charge (APRC) 4.3%). The total amount you pay is €148,114.60. APRC includes €150 valuation fee and mortgage charge of €175 paid to the Property Registration Authority. A 1% interest rate rise would increase monthly repayments by €54.02 per month.
Warning: The cost of your monthly repayments may increase.
Warning: If you do not keep up your repayments you may lose your home.
Warning: If you do not meet the repayments on your loan, your account will go into arrears. This may affect your credit rating, which may limit your ability to access credit in the future.