We discover an impressive architect-designed spread at Brittas Bay
IT'S the first week of the Leaving Cert and, if the weather has abided by time-honoured tradition, the sun should be splitting the stones as you read this. Pity the poor creatures stuck inside, trying to come to terms with Geography and Maths Paper 1, as the rest of us loll around in shorts and sundresses, eating ice-cream.
Since the recession kicked in, whenever the mercury rises above 20C, the whole country starts talking about "staycations", and what a terrible waste of money it is to shell out for flights and hotels and rental cars when there are so many wonderful places to holiday at home.
And it's also the time of year when people start thinking about buying a permanent staycation location for holidays.
This, of course, is the season of peak desirability for holiday homes, when the vague hankering for a bolthole of your own turns into a fully fledged search, with evenings spent scanning the websites of country estate agents, with calculations done on the back of an envelope to confirm how much you will save by buying a vacation home in Ireland, as compared with the price of holidays abroad for decades into the future.
It will pay for itself several times over, you tell yourself, and you'll be making a fortune when you rent it out on Airbnb - the very odd week that you're not going to use it yourself.
Brittas Bay has always been popular with Dublin families who decamp to the seaside for the school holidays, with working parents commuting to the city. (By summer 2016, the motorway extension between The Beehive and Jack White's will be complete, and the drive will be a doddle.)
The days when a mobile home in one of Brittas Bay's better caravan parks made over €250,000 may be in the past but, for a cohort of Dubliners, summer will always mean Brittas.
Located down a private road, and with 474 sq m of living space, on a site of 3.7 acres, Wolf Rock is about as far removed from your average poky Brittas mobile home as it is possible to get.
A remarkable house split over three levels, designed by architect Robin Mandel (currently President of the RIAI) it was built in 2007/8 and is a family home rather than a holiday house - although deep-pocketed ex-pats or homegrown tycoons may give it consideration as a super version of the latter. The current owners are down-sizing.
The views from the elevated sloping site are extraordinary, across to Wales on a clear day, with the sweep of Brittas Bay beach in the foreground and the lush hinterland of Wicklow inland. Mandel is to be congratulated for securing permission on the site.
The principal reception rooms are located on the upper level, to maximise the views, while the four en-suite bedrooms are at the lower level. The entrance hall is in between and, although there are only a few steps between levels, there is space to install a lift if required.
The large open-plan family and entertaining space incorporates a slick kitchen, dining area and living room, with exceptional views from floor to ceiling windows on two main elevations.
An open fireplace with raised hearth is set into the end wall of natural stone. Outside, there is a large deck with an outdoor fireplace, and the gardens are terraced and low-maintenance.
The master bedroom suite on the lower level is luxurious, with an enormous bathroom that includes a bath carved out of a single block of Travertine.
A playroom is kitted out with a home cinema system, and a room currently used as a study could serve as a bedroom or staff accommodation, as there is a guest bathroom adjacent.
Throughout, the walls are white, the floors travertine and oak, and the finishes of high quality, particularly in the bathrooms. The rooms are generous, and the house has the extra conveniences - the pantry and back kitchen with access from the garage, the hi-tech temperature and moisture-controlled wine cellar, the store room, the dressing rooms, the automated blinds - that make living in a contemporary, architect-designed house such a seamless, enviable experience, compared to the compromises inherent in most period houses. The sense here is of a house in which everything has been done well, and without stinting.
Wolf Rock has a right of way with direct access onto the beach, half a kilometre away. Due to its elevated site, the walk down is quicker than the walk back up, which requires a good set of lungs.
McDaniel's, that most convivial of local watering holes, is also within 10 minutes' walk, and Jack's Hole golf course lies opposite. Wicklow Town is handiest for supermarket shopping.
Ballynacarrig, Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow
Asking price: Offers over €2M
Joint Agents: Colliers (01) 6333 700 / Knight Frank (01) 634 2466