herald

Sunday 25 August 2019

Owners of luxury flats in former kids' home vow to drop 'Orphanage' name

The former Bird’s Nest children’s home on York Road in Dun Laoghaire has been turned into luxury flats. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The former Bird’s Nest children’s home on York Road in Dun Laoghaire has been turned into luxury flats. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The former Bird’s Nest children’s home on York Road in Dun Laoghaire has been turned into luxury flats
The former Bird’s Nest children’s home on York Road in Dun Laoghaire has been turned into luxury flats

The owners of a development on the site of the former Bird's Nest children's home in Dun Laoghaire have apologised and said they will rename the building after being criticised for calling it The Orphanage.

"We would like to sincerely apologise for naming the building The Orphanage," the owners said in a statement.

"We deeply regret offending anyone, and particularly those with close connections to the Bird's Nest.

"It was a 'tone-deaf' decision, as rightly pointed out by Susan Lohan, of the Adoption Rights Alliance.

Distress

"We are changing the name of the building. We once again regret any distress or hurt caused."

The Bird's Nest, in York Road, operated as an orphanage from 1859 to 1977 and was one of several institutions revealed as having been involved in clinical trials on babies and young children in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brady & McCarthy Letting Agents, which represents the owners, did not respond to requests for comment from the Herald.

A former resident of the Bird's Nest praised the "sensible" decision of the owners to change the name.

The owners faced heavy criticism from independent senator Victor Boyhan as well as the Adoption Rights Alliance on Wednesday after the name for the luxury rental accommodation emerged.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Mr Boyhan said: "The bottom line is that it's a sensible decision to drop the name.

"It was insensitive and inappropriate to call it The Orphanage because it was never an orphanage.

"It wasn't quite what the owners believed it was. It was a purpose-built children's care home. The historical context is that it is the Bird's Nest, that's what it was always called.

"It was a commercial decision, but it's good to move on now."

Speaking to the Herald on Wednesday, Mr Boyhan had said of the name: "At a minimum, it's provocative - it's written across the door 'The Bird's Nest'. Was it a publicity stunt? Maybe.

"I don't see why they'd call it The Orphanage. I don't know how they didn't see it as an insensitive action."

Ms Lohan, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, had said the Bird's Nest was part of a "pattern".

"The vital thing is that institutions which have a full history that is unknown should become protected sites," she said.

Social

"It's absolutely astonishing to us in the alliance. The fact that they had planning permission given and it's pitched at this executive level.

"Had the building been put to good use, like for social housing, there wouldn't be an issue."

It was reported on Wednesday that the four suites in the building, which have "indoor and outdoor shared spaces", were available to rent for up to €1,500 per month.

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