Family heaven on Dublin's doorstep
Oaksville, Shop River, Annacrivey, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow €675,000
It's tough out there in the market for trader-up homes in the Dublin suburbs, as any family on the hunt for a larger house to accommodate a growing brood will tell you. Caught between the need for more space and the reluctance to give up on the convenience of an urban location, many would-be movers find themselves paralysed, unable to make a decision - and end up staying stuck in a house that's too small for years.
Anne Marie Pigot raised six children in her house by the Shop River, which flows down from the Wicklow Mountains all the way to the fountain at Powerscourt House, and says that Oaksville enabled her and her family to have the best of both worlds. There's no getting away from the fact that you get a whole lot more house for your money if you are prepared to head a little further out from the city.
"We moved down from our house at Glencree to be closer to Enniskerry when our children were getting to the age that they wanted to join all sorts of clubs and participate in lots of different activities," she says. "The fact that there is a bus stop right outside the house - the 185 goes via Enniskerry to Bray Dart station, and the 44 goes from Enniskerry to Dundrum - meant that they could all go to Dublin schools, the boys to St Michael's and the girls to Holy Child. And they got involved in every type of hobby and activity that you can think of. Absolutely everything from Brownies and Scouts to ballet and piano to Irish dancing, tennis, football, horse-riding, golf, yoga and art is on offer in Enniskerry or the immediate vicinity and, believe me, they did them all."
The girls became so keen on their equestrian activities, including the local pony club, that at one stage Anne Marie acquiesced to every little girl's dream and allowed her daughters to keep a small 12h pony in the garden, where there are two stables. (These are currently used for storage but could easily be brought back to their original use.) At around the same time, the family accumulated a menagerie of rabbits, guinea pigs and other pets - there was room for them all at Oaksville.
When Anne Marie bought the house in the late 1990s, there was an existing bungalow which she extended to the front. This extension has a high, vaulted ceiling and forms the main living space, with views out over the gardens on three sides. It is, she says, a great space for parties. Behind this is the kitchen / breakfast room, with both utility and laundry rooms adjacent. A conservatory to the side captures the afternoon sun and opens out onto a patio area.
There are four bedrooms, three of which are en suite, and a family bathroom on the ground floor. Upstairs in the converted attic there are three roof-lit rooms and two bathrooms.
"The children and their friends loved the house and its rambling garden," says Anne Marie, who grows raspberries, gooseberries, red and blackcurrants, loganberries and apples.
On a damp spring afternoon, wood pigeons, chaffinches and starlings are all visible in the three-quarter acre garden, which has numerous places in which to sit and catch the sun, some nice planting and other less manicured areas with wild-flowers to encourage insects and bees.
"Every year there are tadpoles and then frogs, and we get visits from deer and pheasant," says Anne Marie. "For someone who loves nature, this is a great place to live, and you can be out of the house and onto one of the walking trails of the Wicklow Way within a couple of minutes."
For those who prefer less energetic pursuits, Anne Marie says that the Powerscourt Arms in Enniskerry is a great spot with excellent food. Now that her family is grown, she plans to return to her career as a beauty therapist and downsize to a smaller property within walking distance of the village.
Era: 1970s, extended 1990s
Agent: Beirne & Wise (01) 288 0900
Viewing: By appointment