Inside this amazing Wicklow cottage with its own pool and extensive gardens
Ideal for work and pleasure with a home office and extensive gardens
There are perennial rituals to be gone through during those glorious two weeks in May that constitute the Irish summer. Hose down the patio furniture; expose your petrified flesh to the unfamiliar UV light; raid a garden centre for unsuitable plants and then watch them slowly die; eat something undercooked from a barbecue; get sunburnt, and fantasise about putting in a swimming pool.
Most never actually follow through on the last. Putting in a pool is expensive and it hardly seems worth it for a fortnight's fine weather. But those rare few who carry it out become - although briefly - the envy of all their neighbours and friends. In fact, once you've gone to all the trouble and expense of putting in a swimming pool, there's only one real downside: you must prepare for the likelihood that the neighbours will be dropping their children off at your place all summer long.
The owners of The Gables, near Ashford in Co Wicklow, were not put off. They put in a heated outdoor pool in the back garden of their detached dormer bungalow, and the scheme seems to be working. Their pool is a particularly inviting shade of limpid blue, smooth as glass and surrounded by a sun-bleached deck, and it's secluded enough that the neighbours' children might never even find out it's there.
The pretty, cottage-style property was built by the current owners in 2003 in the townland of Coolawinna (or Coolawinnia), which may translate as Cúl a Mhuine or 'Back of the Shrubbery'. It's an inauspicious name for what is in fact a very picturesque area stretching from the R761 across to the railway line and the Irish Sea. In between is the Special Protection Area of Broad Lough, an important site for waterfowl. So when you tire of recreational swimming in your pool, you can go and observe wild birds doing theirs in the lough.
The Gables itself is 2,153 sq ft with the appearance of having seven bedrooms. It's likely, though, that you'll be able to decide for yourself on the uses for some of these rooms once there's no one around to give you a stern lecture on the building regulations as they pertain to habitable spaces in dormer houses.
Officially, the four bedrooms are on the ground floor, but up a spiral staircase on the first floor are three more rooms - two with en-suite bathrooms and one with a walk-in wardrobe. These rooms will more than likely be used as bedrooms either instead of or as well as the downstairs ones, which might free up some of those ground floor spaces for other uses.
Of the ground-floor bedrooms, one has an en-suite double shower and another has French doors to the garden. The family bathroom here, next to the bedrooms, has a claw-foot bath and a vintage-style radiator.
Apart from the bedrooms, there are two main living areas on the ground floor. First is a dual-aspect living and dining room, measuring about 25ft by 17ft, which you reach directly from the entrance porch. The room has a wood floor and there's a solid-fuel stove in the fireplace. The spiral staircase rises to the first floor from here, and in the south-west corner of the room there are French doors to the garden.
At the back of the house then is the eat-in kitchen, also dual-aspect and roughly 20ft by 14ft6. It's fitted with green-painted cabinets and polished granite countertops and has an island unit with a breakfast bar. At the dining end of the room - the south-east this time - there's another solid-fuel stove and more French doors to the garden.
Also off the kitchen is a utility room for noisy jobs such as laundry, and there's a door to the back garden from there too, so no dragging the bins through the reception rooms.
One room you won't need in the main house is a home office, as there's a self-contained building for just that purpose in the grounds, with two rooms and a bathroom.
The Gables is on an acre of gardens in all, the highlight of which is the pool of course, but there's also a wildflower meadow, a long lawn and plenty of mature trees and hedging.
Out the front, the yard is gravelled for satisfyingly crunchy parking manoeuvres, and there's also a garage on the grounds.
It's about three kilometres from Ashford and five kilometres from Wicklow town. The M11 (Junction 16) is less than five minutes' drive - far enough away to cause no trouble with noise, but close enough that you can use it to get to Dublin in about 45 minutes or so.
The Gables is for sale for €730,000 with Sherry FitzGerald Catherine O'Reilly in Wicklow town (0404) 66466.
Coolawinna, Ashford, Co Wicklow
Asking price: €730,000
Agent: Sherry FitzGerald Catherine O'Reilly, Wicklow town (0404) 66466