Historic Molly Malone church may house new €3m urban food market
A €3M urban food market could resurrect a famed Dublin church that was once rumoured to have been on U2's shopping list.
Businessman Michael Wright, who owns the Wright Venue in Swords, is hoping to get planning permission to breathe new life into St Andrew's Church on Suffolk Street.
U2 once expressed interest in buying the church, which dates from 1860.
The Molly Malone statue stands outside.
Failte Ireland moved in instead, but failed to use the building to its full potential.
The tourism body moved out two years ago and the church, which closed for worship in 1993, has been somewhat forgotten since.
Mr Wright hopes to open up by June next year and employ 120 staff.
The project, branded Mar- quette at St Andrew's Church, will be unlike anything seen in Dublin.
Mr Wright said it would become a destination like the Ostermalms food hall in Stockholm and Foodhallen in Amsterdam.
Local representatives are keen on the project.
"This is a very good idea - it'll bring a fantastic building back into public use," said Independent councillor Mannix Flynn.
"It's a beautiful building that had basically been turned into a tourism shop which didn't work.
"When you walk into this church you want to see the building, the stairs, the ceiling.
"I believe that, as Mr Wright comes from a very established Dublin food retail family, this will work out very well.
"He's looking for planning permission and this is a listed building, but a food market is very welcome because it will add to the area, which will be pedestrianised and attract a lot of custom."
It is hoped that the plan will spark the revival of a market culture in the city, especially so close to Grafton Street, which is dominated by international high street stores.
Mr Wright wants the market to sell not only food and alcohol but to offer a social aspect, including musicians, cookery demonstrations and a multi-media auditorium.