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Former Inchicore Youth Club Site Earmarked For Redevelopment

Former Inchicore Youth Club Site Earmarked For Redevelopment

A former youth club on Tyrconnell Road, Inchicore, which has been lying derelict for nearly twenty years, has been earmarked for a new mixed-use redevelopment. However, the developers, Pathway Homes Limited, who are based in Ballisodare, Co. Sligo, are still engaged in “pre-design” talks about the re-building programme with Dublin City Council (DCC).

Last June, DCC added the building, with a sign saying “Grotto House” on its facade, to its Derelict Sites Register, a spokesperson for the council said. But the site, which is now in a state of limbo, has been sitting there rotting away for nearly two decades, according to local resident, Suzanne Corcoran.

“It’s just crazy, it’s sitting there lying empty all these years when it could be used”, said Corcoran, who used the facility as a teenager. She later fought to keep it open and more recently, she has helped to open another youth club, nearby.

The building was previously the home of St. Joseph’s Youth Club, where local children could meet-up to play football, table tennis, pool, as well as engaging in other sporting and social activities. Situated at 129 Tyrconnell Road, the now derelict site is located opposite the Oblate Church of Mary Immaculate, with its iconic twin stone spires and carefully manicured grounds.

Fronting onto Tyrconnell Road, Grotto House was built circa 1930, according to a DCC planner’s report, dating from 2010. The building consists of one storey facing the road and two storeys behind, as the ground slopes down to the River Camac. Further down this slope, connected by a stairwell, is a single-storey sports hall, located on the riverbank.

According to John McGrath, who grew up in the area, there used to be a shop on the site which sold religious items, such as rosary beads, prayer beads and rosettes for girls, who were taking their First Holy Communion. “Like a gift shop for the church”, he said.

The youth club only catered for boys when it first opened but then admitted girls from the 1980’s, according to Corcoran. She herself started going there when she was sixteen or seventeen years old, she explained.

When the original owner of the building, William Joseph Lacy, died in 1961, his will stated that Grotto House was to be held in trust for the use of “St. Joseph’s Boys Club, attached to the Conference of Mary Immaculate Inchicore, of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul”. This is according to a copy of a solicitor’s letter, dating from 1967, provided by Corcoran.

If the club ceased to exist, Lacy wanted the premises to be used for other youth work, or if that wasn’t possible, “as a Saint Vincent de Paul Social/Welfare Centre”, according to the letter.

If that option wasn’t possible, the property should be sold “and the proceeds given to the Conference of Mary Immaculate Inchicore, of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, for the benefit of the poor of the district”, it continued.

The youth club continued to operate from the building for decades after Lacy’s death, until a fire inspector judged the centre to be unsafe, circa 2005, according to Corcoran.

McGrath said that the building “was looked after, but it had its time”. Corcoran suggested that it was in fine shape and doesn’t think that it should have been closed. “I saw it with my own eyes. There was nothing wrong with it”, she said. She added that when the building closed, the youth club moved across the road to the local parish hall.

Back in 2010, “The Frederic Ozanam Trust Incorporated (St. Vincent de Paul)”, filed a planning application to demolish the building and build a mixed-use development.

This proposed the building of a charity shop, fronting Tyrconnell Road, as part of a five-storey building on the four hundred and eighty square metre site. It also proposed the building of a seven-storey block behind that and an adjoining two-storey building. The entire redevelopment would consist of eleven one-bed and two-bed apartments.

“The housing element of the scheme would facilitate the Societies’ own needs and is seen as accommodation for the elderly”, according to the planning application.

“The existing building is no longer in use and has been used for anti-social behaviour, until the 18th September 2009, when the building was secured properly. The Society have requested this planning application because of the derelict nature of the site and the cost of maintaining the site in its current state”, it continued.

Several people objected to the proposed development at the time, among them, Declan Kenny, who lived not far down Tyrconnell Road from the site.

“As it is there are numerous apartments vacant in the area already. We don’t need another one like the one at the top of Tyrconnell Road, thirteen stories, all empty”, he said.

A DCC planner’s report on the application stated that the original plans had failed to meet proper standards. However, when the applicants revised those plans, it recommended that permission should be granted, subject to a number of conditions.

However, Catherine Byrne, the then local Fine Gael TD, as well as Rory and Collette O’ Connor, who lived next door to the site, appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala.

The board’s inspector, like the council’s planner, recommended granting the project planning permission. However, in an about-turn in September 2011, the board decided that the project would “result in over-development of this site, resulting in an overbearing impact on adjoining property”.

The site was due to be auctioned off on 19th June 2013 by estate agents, Lisney, according to a brochure from that time, provided by Corcoran.

According to the brochure, “The property is in need of full renovation and refurbishment throughout and suited to redevelopment”.

Corcoran said that she was among a group of people that fought against the sale at the time, as she believed that the building should be put to a community use. “I ended up in the fight”, she said, from the Ring Street Youth and Community Club, which she now helps run.

In the same year, the site sold for Euros 70,000, according to the Property Price Register. Sadly, since then, the site has remained vacant, with the building deteriorating, according to Corcoran.

In October 2022, local Labour Party Councillor, Darragh Moriarty, asked why the site wasn’t on the Derelict Sites Register and what DCC was doing to bring it back into use.

In a written response in November 2022, the then DCC Chief Executive, Owen Keegan, stated that “The Derelict Sites Unit will arrange to have the site inspected and will take action as appropriate, following the assessment of its condition”.

He also added that “A full report on the findings of the inspection will issue to the Councillor”. Eight months later, the site was added to The Derelict Sites Register, which means that it is subject to an annual derelict sites levy of seven percent.

To date, it is unclear when Pathway Homes Limited bought the site, what it plans to do with it, or if it intends to follow through on those plans.


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