| 19.5°C Dublin

Derry Girls 'sexy priest' Art Campion reflects on his Avoca life as he sells his idyllic cottages

The two-cottage property with 2.5 acres of gardens has proven the perfect hideaway for actor Art Campion

Close

An aerial exterior of Apple Tree Cottage and Pear Tree Cottage Knocknaree, Avoca, Co Wicklow

An aerial exterior of Apple Tree Cottage and Pear Tree Cottage Knocknaree, Avoca, Co Wicklow

Art Campion contemplates his next move at his home in Avoca. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion contemplates his next move at his home in Avoca. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion in the dining room of his home. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion in the dining room of his home. Photo by Bryan Meade

One of the living rooms complete with partition that can close off a sleeping area

One of the living rooms complete with partition that can close off a sleeping area

A country-style kitchen in Apple Tree Cottage

A country-style kitchen in Apple Tree Cottage

A children's playroom at the cottage

A children's playroom at the cottage

The bathroom in Apple Tree Cottage

The bathroom in Apple Tree Cottage

Double doors lead from the garden into one of the reception rooms

Double doors lead from the garden into one of the reception rooms

A window seat overlooking the gardens

A window seat overlooking the gardens

A stream which runs the length of the garden

A stream which runs the length of the garden

Art Campion with Siobhán McSweeney in Derry Girls

Art Campion with Siobhán McSweeney in Derry Girls

/

An aerial exterior of Apple Tree Cottage and Pear Tree Cottage Knocknaree, Avoca, Co Wicklow

There was a time when being cast as the ‘sexy priest’ in the hit television series Derry Girls would have been instantly life-changing.

Just a couple of years ago, Art Campion might have had difficulty walking down the street without getting recognised as Father Peter from the madcap comedy set around a Foyleside Catholic girls’ school during The Troubles and Channel 4’s most successful comedy since Father Ted.
The show holds the highest ever ratings for any series in Northern Ireland and has proven hugely popular for Netflix audiences from around the globe, screened as widely as the USA, Pakistan and New Zealand. Written by Lisa McGee, episodes reached three million viewers on first screening in the UK.

Close

Art Campion with Siobhán McSweeney in Derry Girls

Art Campion with Siobhán McSweeney in Derry Girls

Art Campion with Siobhán McSweeney in Derry Girls

Its success of has even sparked Twitter and glossy mag comparisons between Campion’s ‘sexy priest’ and Andrew Scott, Fleabag’s ‘hot priest.’

But from Campion’s perspective, living a bucolic life in rural Co Wicklow, Derry Girls has been more of a slow burn on the recognition side of things.

“People I meet now are mentioning the show a lot more than they used to,” he says. I think people connect with it on a really personal kind of level, because it’s based on family. Everybody was a teenager at some point. ”

Close

Art Campion in the dining room of his home. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion in the dining room of his home. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion in the dining room of his home. Photo by Bryan Meade

Screen fame notwithstanding, there is less chance of getting recognised on the byroads around the village of Avoca, where Art (previously credited as Peter) has lived with his wife Valerie O’Connor and their two girls Mary Rae (5) and Maudie (4) for the past four years and through all three seasons of the hit comedy. O’Connor will also be a familiar face to readers who have watched the TV soap opera Red Rocks, in which she played the part of Detective Inspector Nikki Grogan.

Campion’s career has been going from strength to strength. He has appeared in the big screen adaptation of Colm Toibín’s Brooklyn, as well as John Carney’s critically acclaimed film Sing Street and the popular crime drama Love/Hate, in which he played the part of Stumpy. Peaky Blinders fans will know him as Mickey Gibbs. On top of that he is also the voice of the popular reality TV show First Dates.

Close

Art Campion contemplates his next move at his home in Avoca. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion contemplates his next move at his home in Avoca. Photo by Bryan Meade

Art Campion contemplates his next move at his home in Avoca. Photo by Bryan Meade

Home & Property Newsletter

Get the best home, property and gardening stories straight to your inbox every Saturday

This field is required

Art is very excited about his most recent role however, where he gets to play Michael Collins in an upcoming docudrama marking the centenary of the foundation of the state.

“Yeah, I think I am really lucky to get to do that,” he says. “I have learnt so much about that revolutionary time, 100 years ago and I find I am increasingly blown away by the context of that, that our country is still so young in terms of the State being only 100 years old. We are still newborns historically.”

Rural east Wicklow has been their home since the couple decided they would like to ‘head for the sticks’ about five years ago. “We were living in Dublin and our first idea was to move to west Cork, but then we had a look around here and we found this place.” The couple were immediately taken with the secluded four-bedroom bungalow on gardens and an acre of woodland.

Close

A stream which runs the length of the garden

A stream which runs the length of the garden

A stream which runs the length of the garden

The two and a half acres garden really is the star here and it has a little bit of something for everyone in the audience, including formal gravel and symmetrical box hedge elements, some lawns, a number of terraced walks, bowers and a bubbling stream running the length of it.

“We’re not huge gardeners. The previous owner put in most of it in back in 1990 and it is really low maintenance,” Campion says. “There are just a few hedges to be trimmed and a bit of grass to be cut. The trees are really amazing though. There are redwoods and other really unusual species in there and that part of the garden looks after itself.”

Close

A window seat overlooking the gardens

A window seat overlooking the gardens

A window seat overlooking the gardens

Though you could get lost here for hours on end, one of the things Campion is really going to miss is the selection of world-class loop walks, literally on his doorstep — a 2.5km hike up to some spectacular views over the Avoca Valley from White Cross. Or the alternative Red Kite walk, named for the chances of spying the Garden County’s most famous raptor.
It’s not that the Campions are completely remote. They are just a minute’s drive from the village of Avoca and 45 minutes from central Dublin. Campion says he wonders why more people don’t consider it.

“I still can’t get over how you can feel so remote and yet it is so close to town,” he says. “If I was going to stay here, I would be campaigning for the re-opening of the railway station at Avoca. It would be amazing to be able to commute here by train and get more cars off the road.”

The Campion homestead is divided into two halves set around a formal garden of box hedging, forming a sort of courtyard, there is a main house and a ‘guest’ house.

Close

A children's playroom at the cottage

A children's playroom at the cottage

A children's playroom at the cottage

While there’s an obvious potential for rental income here, the couple have chosen to live in both houses. “The Apple Tree Cottage is the main house but the Pear Tree Cottage is used pretty much all the same, as a second sitting room and office. I have my sound studio there for voiceover work and family stay in it when they’re visiting. We also use it for movie nights and workshops.”

Close

Double doors lead from the garden into one of the reception rooms

Double doors lead from the garden into one of the reception rooms

Double doors lead from the garden into one of the reception rooms

The Apple Tree Cottage, has a large family/ living room, as well as two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and a study. Off the main living room is a sunroom (Campion’s favourite) with French doors out to a patio/ outside dining area, with a retractable awning, useful in the capricious Irish weather.

Pear Tree Cottage, the ‘guest’ component is a linear (longhouse-style) affair. It has a bedroom with a separate entrance and its own bathroom. A second, larger bedroom with an ensuite bathroom again has its own entrance, as well as a living room and separate kitchen diner.

Close

One of the living rooms complete with partition that can close off a sleeping area

One of the living rooms complete with partition that can close off a sleeping area

One of the living rooms complete with partition that can close off a sleeping area

The living room here has painted timber-clad ceilings and a large skylight in the centre and there are double doors out to a patio. Though open plan, this sleeping area can be divided off in the evenings courtesy of large folding doors.

Close

A country-style kitchen in Apple Tree Cottage

A country-style kitchen in Apple Tree Cottage

A country-style kitchen in Apple Tree Cottage

The kitchen in the main part of the house is ‘modern country’ style, with a wood-burning stove and the main bathroom has a wood-panelled bath, toilet cubicle and vanity unit, that might look more appropriate in a more stately setting.

Close

The bathroom in Apple Tree Cottage

The bathroom in Apple Tree Cottage

The bathroom in Apple Tree Cottage

Parallel to the guest ‘cottage’ is another building, which Campion calls ‘the barn’. This is a long traditional workshop almost the same size as the ‘guest cottage’ again and accommodates a wood shed, garage and work shop benches. “I did have plans for this, to turn it into more accommodation.”

Campion says he has made little or no structural alterations to the property, but did oversee the installation of new services.

“We put in a new septic tank, a new heating system and a new water filtration system for the well. The water from the well here tastes exceptional.”

Which all begs the question, why move back to Dublin when you’ve got this?

“It just kind of hit home how much we need to be in Dublin, for work right now. And also, it just makes that bit more sense with regards family. In Dublin, we can be closer to grandparents and aunties and uncles. And when I work, if I’m doing a stage play for instance, I’m in town six days a week. It just makes a bit more practical sense.”

Apple Tree Cottage and Pear Tree Cottage come with an asking price of €685,000 through Sherry FitzGerald’s Wicklow Town branch.



Most Watched





Privacy