Thursday 19 April 2018

Jet skis, sailing and tennis on the lawn... where Wisteria Lane meets Glenroe

Notable visitors include Gerard Kean and Lisa Murphy
Notable visitors include Gerard Kean and Lisa Murphy
SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVIN' IS EASY: Sarah McGovern pictured on the beach in Brittas Bay with her children Robyn and Jude. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Notable visitors include Noel Smyth
Jack's Hole
The entrance gates at Jack's Hole
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Tucked away in the shadow of the Wicklow mountains, miles from the bustle of Dublin's city life, a group of Dublin's upwardly mobile residents are living up to their tag.

They come from their homes in Dublin's most sought-after addresses, driving luxury cars to Potter's Point and Jack's Hole in Brittas Bay - luxury hotspots for millionaires in mobile homes.

In the 1990s Keeping Up Appearances star Hyacinth Bucket famously announced that she would never be seen emerging from a "hippie-style caravanette" - but times have changed. Even a host of Hollywood A-listers - including Will Smith, Vin Diesel, Matthew McConaughey and Ashton Kutcher - are getting in on the act.

And the Irish are keeping up with the best of them in a world where Wisteria Lane meets Glenroe.

Behind the CCTV, high-security gates and swipe-card entrance of the Wicklow enclave, Audi A7, Mercedes S-Class cars, top-of-the-range BMWs and Range Rovers are parked outside the Roadmaster homes. Inside, the luxury continues. These are no ordinary mobile homes.

Think bespoke kitchens with breakfast bars and larder presses, elegant and spacious living rooms with carpets and wood flooring, and fully-fitted bedrooms with space for king-size beds and en suite bathrooms. The mobile homes themselves have the grand titles of exclusive summer getaways - such as the Hampton.

Outside, every neighbour politely waves at one another as they drive by, and as women stand chatting on the road, a gardener can be seen carefully tending the flower beds and manicuring the lawns and hedges.

Every second family has a gazebo on the veranda. Built-in BBQs are on standby for get-togethers and countless boats align the nearby beach. Some homeowners have jet skis to match.

Irene Lacey, who oversees the sale of sites and mobile homes in Potter's Point, explains: "Some people on the site have invested up to €350,000. You can have as many bedrooms as you like, it's really up to yourself. Some have four, you can have five."

If you are lucky enough to land a site, that is. Even money doesn't always guarantee access.

You have to be assessed, told which mobile homes you can purchase and if you're very lucky, you may even be accepted into the local social hierarchy.

"Most are young professionals from Dublin, I would say 95pc. They come from Rathgar, Rathmines, Rathfarnham, most come from that type of area," said Irene.

She explains the routine for many holidaymakers: "Most people spend the whole summer down here. So they would commute up and down to work."

However other couples like to split their time.

"The women stay down on the site from the July 1 and the men commute up and down or they might come down on a Friday night and stay until Sunday.

"We always say Dublin is like a bachelor pad for the months of July and August," she laughs. "But it's fantastic for children. And of course the mothers would usually bring the childminders down with them to help out."

The gated communities are paradise for the young. Indeed, the mommies and daddies aren't the only ones boasting a cool set of wheels. Children zip up and down the road in top-of-the-range go karts and dune buggies or ride on the latest RipStik casterboards.

If they get bored of the toy box, they have several tennis courts, a basketball court, a football pitch, a nine-hole golf course and a playground to keep them entertained.

The adults aren't stuck for activities either, as Irene explains: "There is something to do every day. We have boot camps, volleyball on the beach, there is tennis on at 10 this morning for the ladies for example, so you could run from that to golf in the afternoon or just sit back on your veranda and read a book in the sun. It's what you make of it for yourself really."

When it comes to technology on the site, "we don't allow aerials or satellite dishes, everything has to be piped", she says, adding, "I won't pretend the [mobile phone and internet] reception is brilliant... But then again it could suit some people."

Siobhan Lynch of Roadmaster homes explains that the 'Hampton' is the biggest and best unit on their books and averages at around €126,000, but customers can build their dream home from scratch.

"You can literally pick a design and colour of your choosing, we have 40-something styles of doors alone, for example. So people usually give us a wish-list of every conceivable thing you could ever ask for and we meet their needs," she says.

"We fully fit out everything. In the kitchen, you have your fridge-freezer, dishwasher, gas cooker, pull-out spice racks and, of course, the all important wine rack."

When it comes to outdoor luxuries, she says: "I have heard of two people that have hot tubs built in to the decking and I believe a couple have built a sauna into their decking but I haven't dealt with it myself, as a separate company handles that."

Solicitor Noel Smyth is a long-time resident while other high-profile names who have enjoyed their summers here over the years include C&C managing director Maurice Pratt, Samir Haji of Horizon Technology, publican Tom Mangan of Doheny & Nesbitt's, Ronan O'Keeffe of Trinity Biotech and members of the Fitzpatrick family of Killiney Castle Hotel.

Gerald Kean lives in Drayton Manor in a nearby valley and can often be seen popping in and out of Bay Cafe, while Ivor Fitzpatrick - Charlie Haughey's former solicitor - has been known to drop in on his helicopter from Castle Howard for a barbecue.

Down on the beach front model Sarah McGovern is spotted enjoying the surrounds with her children: "It reminds me of my childhood and the summers we spent here. Unfortunately I wasn't one of those kids whose parents had a summer home here, it would have been nice. But it was the first bit of sun on my day off so I decided to come down with the children. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world with some of the most beautiful beaches, it's nice to enjoy them when we get a bit of nice weather."

"It's the domestic version of Marbella or Quinta Da Lago," says one socialite who has BBQ-d with the residents. "People still take their foreign holidays but this is their main bolthole here in the summer months."

Describing the prestige of owning a mobile home in the exclusive enclaves, she says: "It's like owning a lawn mower in Monte Carlo. In other words, only the very rich can afford a garden there. Having a luxury mobile home in this part of Ireland is no different."

Sunday Independent

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