Dublin mayor calls for British legion hall to be saved

Quinn urges Government and council to reach agreement on Killester building

The British legion hall in Killester, Dublin

The British legion hall in Killester, Dublin

Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 10:37

Dublin’s Lord Mayor has called for Government and council officials to hold talks in a bid to save one of the last British legion halls in Ireland.

The building in Killester, north Dublin — part of a suburb built for first World War veterans and known as Little Britain — is on sale for €50,000 with one serious bid on the table.

Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn has urged officials to agree a deal to preserve the hall before the important heritage site is lost. “I’d like to see it preserved but also if possible to give it a contemporary use,” he said.

“I’m kind of cognisant it has echoes of what President Michael D Higgins said around this time last year on the Lockout centenary that knowledge of history is intrinsic to citizenship.

“Reflecting on the cultural and political history and heritage it would help people remember who we are and how we got here.”

Some 247 houses were built in Killester between 1918 and 1922 for ex-servicemen and their families on what was called the garden suburb model, with large rear gardens to help families be self-sufficient.

The Lord Mayor said the links between the Lockout and the first World War run deep with many dockers who came off a six month strike enlisting in the British army in order to get a wage, a pension and a spouse’s payment.

The legion hall was built in the early 1920s as a community facility and is thought to be one of only two left in Ireland.

Some 49,000 soldiers from the island of Ireland died in the first World War or from injuries.

Officials from the Office of Public Works, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the city council are being invited to meet residents and community representatives to thrash out a way to buy and save the building.

Campaigners had hoped it would be preserved as some form of mini-cenotaph or community centre and peace park or museum.

Relatives of those who fought in the wars and used the hall still live in the area. Jane Horgan-Jones, local Labour councillor, said: “We need to sit down together and hammer out the best way to proceed.”

“It’s a great shame that the legion hall has fallen into its current state of disrepair, and the right thing to do is to re-develop it in a way that pays meaningful tribute both to its original purpose and to its central role in the community.”

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