Pigeon House power station and hotel set for redevelopment

Poolbeg site to become cultural ‘precinct’ perhaps with film studio under council plans

The old Pigeon House power station and hotel on the Poolbeg peninsula are to be redeveloped as a creative and cultural "precinct" under new plans from Dublin City Council.

The council has said it would be open to the development of a film studio on the seven-acre site, following the rejection by Dublin Port Company of the Dublin Bay Studio project on its lands in the neighbouring Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).

The power station, built in stages from the early 1900s, was in use by the ESB until it was decommissioned in the 1970s. The hotel is much older, dating from the early 1790s when it was built to accommodate the increasing cross-channel passenger traffic.

Both buildings and the surrounding land were acquired by the city council from the ESB in 2004.


Initially, the council planned to include the site as part of the redevelopment of the Poolbeg peninsula as a new urban quarter with plans for homes for 10,000 people and office space to accommodate 16,000 workers.

Ringsend sewerage

However, the Pigeon House area was cut off from the main housing site centred on the former Irish Glass Bottle lands by the Ringsend sewerage works and later the incinerator, and was eventually left out of the final SDZ scheme when it was scaled back to accommodate about 8,000 apartments.

The site has lain vacant since and has become increasingly derelict.

The old power station, one of the State’s largest protected structures, is largely in ruins with only one of its 12 chimneys remaining, although the council said the roof of its main building was mostly intact.

The Georgian hotel, also on the Record of Protected Structures, is in better condition, as it has remained in use as offices, but both buildings need “extensive refurbishment”, the council said.

Visitor attraction

The council plans to seek expressions of interest for the development of the full seven-acre site, and said it was “particularly interested in receiving proposals from those involved in creative, technological and green industries”. Proposals for a “ large-scale visitor attraction” will also be considered it said.

A film studio would be open for consideration at the site, the council said.

Dublin Bay Studios wants to build an €80 million Hollywood-style studio complex in the Poolbeg SDZ on land owned by Dublin Port. The port company has said it intends to retain its lands in the SDZ for port use.

A spokeswoman for the studio project, which has been supported by Bono and actors Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy, said it welcomed the council’s proposals for the Pigeon House site, which could “complement” the studio activities, and support its vision for a “creative cluster” in the docklands. However it said the seven-acre site would be “too small” as it had proposed locating the studio on 18 acres of SDZ lands.

The Pigeon House is not named after the bird, but a man called John Pidgeon, the caretaker in the 1760s of a storehouse used by the builders of the Great South Wall. Pidgeon started selling refreshments at his storehouse to passengers of the packet ships travelling from England and Europe.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times