Home of Billie Barry school in Dublin for sale

Dublin City Council has not consented to sale of adjacent pitch and putt course

Children from the Billie Barry Stage School. The school’s home has been on Philipsburgh Avenue for decades. Photograph: Alan Betson

The renowned Bille Barry Stage School may have to leave its north Dublin home due to plans to sell the Fairview premises it has occupied for decades.

Local businessman Sean Giffney plans to sell the building at 80 Philipsburgh Avenue along with an adjoining pitch and putt course owned by Dublin City Council.

However, the council said it had “not consented” to the sale of its lands and was given “no prior notice” of the intended sale.

Mr Giffney, who owns the Philipsburgh Avenue building, formerly the Christian Young Men’s Club (CYMC), is seeking €3.5 million for the site which has been advertised as a residential development opportunity.

Billie Barry pictured in 2010. Photograph: Collins
Pupils take part in an early Billie Barry Stage School performance 1965, the year after the school opened

The advertising brochure states the property includes a 10,828sq ft sports and social clubhouse, with a bar and dance hall, as well as an 18-hole pitch and putt course of almost 2 acres. The course is on a long-term lease from the council that has 64 years left to run.


A sales brochure notes the former clubhouse building, currently occupied by the Billie Barry school known for training child performers for stage and screen, and a Montessori school, is zoned for residential use. It said the site could be suitable for up to 32 apartments or possibly more if it was developed under the build-to-rent model.

The brochure acknowledges the pitch and put green is owned by the council and zoned for recreational and open space, but the leasehold on the land is offered as part of the sale.

Mr Giffney said he was saddened by the prospect of selling.

“I’m very sad to have to do it, but we have continued to operate at a loss for the past number of years. The rent from the Billie Barry school and the Montessori falls short of what it takes to keep the place going every year by about 25 per cent.”

Mr Giffney said he had invested considerably in repairing the building and refurbishing the club bar. However, he said, local residents opposed him seeking a licence to reopen the bar.

“This would have given an income that could have made the building viable. It would have been a place for local people to meet up, or somewhere to get tea and a sandwich after a game of pitch and putt.”

It would be a condition of any sale that the pitch and putt course was retained, he said. “We would be very, very selective about who we entered into an agreement with.” He said he had not approached the council yet as it was too early in the process.

Public land

Local Fine Gael councillor Naoise O Muirí said the pitch and putt course should not have been advertised for sale, but there was a “double lock” protecting it.

“First of all, this is public land and any disposal would have to go to the council for approval and that has not happened. Secondly, this is zoned Z9 open space – any development on it would require rezoning, and I will be putting pressure on to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

A spokeswoman for the council said under the terms of the lease “any proposed sale or other change of circumstances” required the council’s consent and the council “has not consented to the sale of the lands in question”.

She said: “In view of the recent advertisement, and the fact that DCC received no prior notice of the proposed sale, we have written to their legal representatives seeking clarification as to their intentions and reminding them of the terms of the lease, and specifically in relation to the matter of landlord consent and the fact that the sole permitted use of the lands is for sporting and recreational community purposes.”

The Billie Barry school and its representatives could not be contacted.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times