By Francine Cunningham
Many of us dreamed of giving our house a complete makeover during lockdown. I don’t know whether they wished upon a star, but for a few of my neighbours in County Wicklow, this dream has just come true. In the village of Greystones just south of Dublin, which we moved to six months ago, one of the beautiful old arts and crafts style houses has been turned into a pink confection, complete with a round tower topped by a spire, trailing garlands of lilac and spectacular topiary. If a small girl drew a picture of a dream house using just pink and purple crayons, it would look like this.
In case you think those neighbours have lost the plot, they are in fact being put up in a five-star hotel while their transformed house is used as part of the set for the forthcoming Disney movie, Disenchanted. Filming is due to start in June on this sequel to the 2007 film “Enchanted,” which is the sort of fantasy romantic comedy that we probably all need after a rough year. The story picks up on the archetypal Disney princess, played by Amy Adams, some 15 years after she found her love interest in the form of Patrick Dempsey (Dr McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy) and moved to live in the suburbs.
In this case, the suburbs are set in the picturesque village of Enniskerry, in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains, accessible via a narrow country road that is colloquially (and accurately) known as “The Twenty-One Bends.” This typical Wicklow village has been given the full Disney treatment too. Carpenters, painters and builders have turned the existing shop fronts into a fantasy town with brightly coloured shops named “Smee’s Cheese”, “Prince Ali’s Flying Carpets”, “Mary Popover’s Bakery” and “Potions, Notions and Lotions”. Even the old phone box that normally stands disused and neglected just off the village square, and was at risk of being demolished, has been painted mauve, topped with a turret and covered in blooms. Bunting and garlands of roses deck out the entire village square. If only life was always like this.
Yet you don’t have to suspend disbelief to understand why Walt Disney Pictures chose to film their escapist rom com in Wicklow, otherwise known as “the garden of Ireland”. Maybe the sun doesn’t always shine, the roses don’t climb nearly as high as on the film set and there is only one decent bakery in all of Greystones. Yet it is still a bit of a dream to live here.