herald

Monday 10 December 2018

Church in talks with GAA to sell land for hotel and social housing

An aerial view of the Holy Cross College site in Drumcondra, with Croke Park in the background
An aerial view of the Holy Cross College site in Drumcondra, with Croke Park in the background

The GAA is in talks to buy the former Holy Cross College, which could be turned into a hotel and social housing.

The Archdiocese of Dublin announced the discussions, blaming financial strains on the upkeep of the property as a primary reason for the sale.

Currently only the GAA and the Diocese are involved in talks surrounding the purchase of the Drumcondra property, which hasn't been operational as a seminary college since 2000.

Protected

The building, founded in 1854, is currently listed by Dublin City Council as a protected structure, and the owners are in talks with architectural experts to ensure it is preserved.

The Diocese has said that the land will be used to provide social, affordable and private housing, a hotel as well as sports facilities for children and young adults. The Clonliffe Road land is just a stone's throw away from GAA headquarters at Croke Park.

A statement from the Diocese said that it is co-operating closely with the GAA "on plans to ensure the lands and buildings be developed into one of the most significant community projects for the north city".

"Subject to planning permissions, it is envisaged the Clonliffe property would include social, affordable and private housing, sports facilities for children and young adults, as well as a hotel and commercial opportunities providing employment for people living in the area," it said.

"The GAA and the Diocese are committed to providing increased access for the public to landscaped greenways and park facilities.

"The upkeep of the historic building has been a significant burden on diminishing Diocesan resources and it is no longer financially sustainable or prudent for the Diocese to retain a property of this size and scale, which is no longer fit for its purposes."

It added that Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the project represents a vital opportunity for the Church in Dublin to reimagine its place in the life of the city at a time of enormous change and challenges.

If the deal goes through, it will also see the landscaped greenway and park facilities made more accessible to members of the public.

The funds from the potential sale of the former Holy Cross College will be used to fund priest training. It is planned to relocate around 80 Diocesan support staff to a smaller, purpose-built pastoral centre.

The former Mater Dei building, which the Diocese made available to the council to become a Family Hub for homeless families and which is run by Crosscare, will not be affected by the sale, which could take several months to be completed.

The college was established by the then Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen, to provide priests for the Dublin Diocese.

Due to a fall in the number of vocations, seminary duties at the Holy Cross College were suspended in 2000, with those studying to join priesthood being transferred to the national seminary in St Patrick's College, Maynooth.

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