Trinity College purchases Iveagh Grounds sports facility for €2m

17-acre site in Crumlin gives university access to GAA, rugby, tennis and hockey pitches

The Iveagh Grounds sports faciliity, which Trinity College has purchased from Guinness owners, Diageo.

The Iveagh Grounds sports faciliity, which Trinity College has purchased from Guinness owners, Diageo.

 

Trinity College Dublin has bought the Iveagh Grounds sporting facility from the owners of Guinness.

The 17-acre grounds in Crumlin - which include GAA, rugby, bowls, tennis and hockey pitches - are among the largest sporting grounds close to Dublin city centre.

Trinity, which has been seeking to expand its sports offering to cater to a growing student population for several years, is understood to have paid close to €2 million for the grounds.

The university is likely to spend significant additional sums on developing new sports facilities at the site.

The relatively low price is understood to be a fraction of its development value, reflecting the fact that the agreement restricts its future use to sports.

The grounds were originally established in 1928 for the benefit of Guinness workers.

Until now the grounds have been managed by the Guinness Athletic Union, an independent club with a broad membership from across the community.

Under the terms of the agreement, Trinity is assuming ownership, control and management of the grounds.

It is planned that the athletics union and its clubs will enjoy continued access to the facilities at preferential rates. The union will also continue to offer recreational and function rooms.

The Iveagh Grounds join the university’s sports pitches, along with its existing 34-acre sports grounds in Santry which include soccer, GAA, rugby and hockey pitches.

Plans to sell the facility hit a number of obstacles in recent years.

In June last year, members of the Guinness Athletic Union rejected an offer from Diageo, including the write-off of a €2 million loan connected with the facility’s clubhouse and bar, to ease the transition of ownership.

A revised deal is understood to have included a write-off of the loan, along with a “financial cushion” for the union.

Trinity Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast said he looked forward to presenting the development plans for the sports facility to students, staff and alumni in the near future.

“We aim to develop Trinity as one of the best university sporting experiences in Ireland and leader in third level sports,” he said.

“Sports is at the heart of the Trinity experience. It is an essential co-curricular activity and we want to optimise the connection between academic achievement and involvement in meaningful sporting programmes. The acquisition of this great sports facility will enable us further in achieving this.”

Edward Guinness, the first Earl of Iveagh and great grandson of the stout company’s founder Arthur Guinness, bought the site in the 1920s and gave over its use to the GAU.

Amid a cost-cutting drive in 1994, the company stopped subsidising employees’ membership of the club and, in return, build the current clubhouse.

Trinity’s head of sports, Michelle Tanner said university’s vision was to create a hub of outdoor sports facilities to help meet future demand, as well as serving the needs of community sporting groups.