Hunter's Hotel, Ireland's oldest coaching inn, and its gardens sit along the banks of the River Vartry, 2km outside of Ashford and about a five-minute drive from the Mount Usher Gardens. The spot is a favourite haunt of method actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who made the Garden County his adopted home in the mid-1990s.
Indeed, it was at Hunter's Hotel that director Steven Spielberg finally managed to convince Day-Lewis to take on the role of Abraham Lincoln. The chat in the cosy Wicklow hotel paid off and in 2013, Day-Lewis won his third Oscar for Best Actor for Lincoln, in which he played the much-admired US president in the months leading up to his assassination.
Ashford's location, nestled between the Wicklow Mountains and the Irish Sea, has long attracted creatives seeking a countryside retreat. The late Seamus Heaney used to divide his time between Dublin and Ashford, where the family had a cottage called Glanmore that served as the inspiration for the Glanmore Sonnets.
First-time buyers, trader-uppers and downsizers seeking a permanent getaway from Dublin have also been drawn to Ashford's Ballinahinch Wood, a development of 169 three, four and five-bed homes - including bungalows - that Ardstone Homes launched on the outskirts of the village a year ago. Such buyers get more bang for their buck at the scheme than they would in the capital, yet they have easy connectivity to Dublin thanks to the nearby N11 dual carriageway.
Some 80 houses have been sold at Ballinahinch Wood in the past year and a further 30 homes go on the market there tomorrow. Twelve of the houses are in a three-bed semi-detached style that measures 1,129 sq ft and costs from €359,950, while 10 are four-bed semis that span 1,274 sq ft and are priced from €385,000 apiece. A four-bed detached design with 1,537 sq ft of living space costs from €465,000 and the single five-bed detached property available in this tranche extends over 2,305 sq ft and is selling for €650,000. The three-bed semis have a front living room, an open-plan kitchen/diner with a utility room, and large glazed patio doors to the rear that open on to the back garden. Upstairs, there are two double bedrooms and a single bedroom. The sole five-bed detached home in this phase is in a double-fronted detached style and comes with a sunroom off the kitchen/diner and two living rooms.
Designed by BBA Architects, the block-built houses have a traditional-style front exterior, albeit with a modern render finish, with alu-clad windows throughout and a Prestige hardwood front door. The front driveway has enough space for two cars.
The front living room is fitted with a Lamartine electric fire set in a stone surround, while the kitchen from Fitzgerald Kitchens features stone-effect worktops and appliances. Fitzgeralds also supplied the built-in wardrobes to the bedrooms.
There is Sonas sanitaryware and wall and floor tiling to the bathroom and the ensuites, while the latter spaces also come with a shower screen. Heating at the A-rated homes is provided by an energy-efficient Panasonic air-to-water heat pump.
Buyers with young children won't have to travel far for the school run: local choices in the village include Scoil Na Coroine Mhuire National School and the Nuns Cross National School, which is under Church of Ireland management. Secondary schools in nearby Wicklow Town include the East Glendalough co-educational school, Coláiste Chill Mhantáin, Dominican College for girls, and there is a new Educate Together secondary school in the pipeline.
Ashford is close to Glendalough, while the Blue Flag beach at Brittas Bray is only a 15-minute drive away. For commuters to Dublin, Ashford is just 20 minutes from the M50 and a 10-minute drive from the train station in Wicklow Town and 15 minutes from the Dart station in Greystones.
Viewings of the Ballinahinch Wood showhouses will be held from 12pm to 2pm tomorrow and Sunday.
When the award for the world's best-designed house was presented to architect David Leech at the World Architecture Festival in 2018, for his modest backyard build in Clontarf, the Irishman proved that world-beating design can truly be a part of the types of houses that most of us have a chance of owning.
The leafy Back Road that runs along part of the perimeter of the 12th-century Malahide Castle and its 268-acre grounds has increasingly become a popular destination for two residential developers catering to trader-uppers and first-time buyers in the upmarket suburb.