Iveagh Markets’ €100m redevelopment to be completed within two years

Group behind plans for Dublin landmark sees profits soar in year to end of February

The Iveagh Markets in the Liberties have been derelict since the mid 1990s. Publican/hotelier Martin Keane is developing the site into a stylish food and crafts market along with a 90-bedroom apart hotel. Video: Bryan O’Brien


Hotelier and publican Martin Keane, who is behind a €100 million plan to redevelop the historic Iveagh Markets in Dublin, is expecting work on the project to be completed within two years.

Mr Keane, who also owns and operates the Oliver St John Gogarty bar and the 100-bed Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar, said he is currently working to secure the final piece of funding that will enable work on the site to proceed.

The restored and extended late Victorian building on Francis Street in the Liberties is to house a food market, a craft and clothing market, restaurants, a brewery and distillery and an exhibition/performance area. Adjoining protected structures, including the former Mother Redcaps market will be converted into a 97-bedroom hotel.

Work on the redevelopment of the markets was expected to commence in 2015, more than 20 years after its regeneration was first proposed. However, difficulties in securing finance for the project, and legal disputes over its ownership, has seen redevelopment work postponed a number of times.

Mr Keane said demolition work on the former Mother Redcaps is to begin next month.

“We’ve been chasing funding for the heritage part of the project and that is still proceeding. The rest of the redevelopment is self-supporting,” he told The Irish Times.

“If the heritage end of the financing falls into place as expected then the whole project should be completed within 18 months to two years,” Mr Keane added.

Guinness family

The Iveagh Markets were built in the early 1900s by the Guinness family. It was later handed over in trust to Dublin Corporation, which continued to operate the market until the mid-1990s. Mr Keane acquired a 500-year lease on the building in 1997, with planning permission extended a number of times since then.

“There’s no one keener to see the Iveagh Markets up and running than myself. I was very lucky to hold on to the site with a number of vulture funds and Nama looking to get hold of it. It hasn’t been pretty over the last few years,” he said.

New accounts for Drayton House Holdings, which is controlled by Mr Keane along with his wife Vera and daughter Martina, show the legal title for Iveagh Markets had not yet been transferred from Dublin Corporation, meaning the group’s only financial commitment for the site as of the end of February 2016 was a deposit of €1.77 million.

According to the latest accounts, the group continued to see profits rise in the year to the end of February 2016, after a strong trading performance in the prior year when profits jumped 78 per cent.

Temple Bar

Drayton House Holdings, which also operates the Oliver St John Gogarty and Blooms Hotel, posted pretax profits of €4.9 million for the 12 months to the end of last February, up from €3.11 million a year earlier. Turnover rose to €15.2 million from €12.9 million with operating profit increasing to €5.1 million from €3.1 million.

Drayton House Holdings employed 105 people last year with staff costs, including directors’ remuneration, rising to €2.75 million from €2.73 million a year earlier.

Mr Keane said he was interested in growing his business in the Temple Bar area with the group recently losing out on bids for two city-centre buildings adjoining Blooms, which were previously owned by the Central Bank.

“I’m always on the hunt but it has to stand up. I don’t believe in going out and buying something just for the sake of it,” he said.