Archdiocese and GAA selling land in Drumcondra for €100m

Dublin site of 19 acres could include 1,200 apartments

Aerial view of the Drumcondra portfolio.

Aerial view of the Drumcondra portfolio.


More than 19 acres of land in Drumcondra, Dublin, part of a site being sold by the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin to the GAA, are now on the market and expected to attract bids of €100 million or more. The development could include up to 1,200 apartments and other residential accommodation.

The details of how the profits from the property venture will be split between the two organisations have not been clarified.

Spokespeople for the archdiocese and the GAA were not prepared to elaborate on details of the financial arrangement. “We agreed that we wouldn’t comment until they sorted out their end,” a GAA spokesman said.

A brochure prepared for potential bidders says the GAA is selling the “Drumcondra portfolio”, while retaining lands adjoining the site to develop extensive sporting and recreational facilities, and a new hotel.

The 19.12 acres between Clonliffe Road and Lower Drumcondra Road are being sold by way of a “structured best bid process”, with the potential for up to 1,200 apartments and the conversion of existing listed buildings into more residential accommodation. Some 10 per cent of the residential units will be for social housing and a further 10 per cent for affordable housing.

The archdiocese announced in November 2018 it had entered into exclusive negotiations with the GAA to sell the former Holy Cross seminary and adjoining lands.

In recent weeks the brochure produced by selling agent Hooke and MacDonald, which describes the GAA as the vendor, has been circulated to interested parties.

Interested parties

Property sources predicted substantial interest from home and abroad.

Irish-listed housebuilders Glenveagh and Cairn Homes could be expected to run the rule over the project, with privately backed players such as Pat Crean’s Marlet and Cork-based Michael O’Flynn also likely to look at the site, along with international real estate investors such as Kennedy-Wilson.

A masterplan for the site “envisages a new residential quarter with over 1,200 apartments and local neighbourhood centre, together with extensive sporting and recreational facilities and a hotel, on adjoining lands”, the brochure says.

The brochure says the private rented sector is “the most vibrant part of the Irish property investment market” and has “considerable potential for growth”.

Despite Dublin having restrictions on rent increases, “average residential rents in Dublin are currently rising by 7.8 per cent per annum”, the brochure says.

Any future plans for the property must have “significant elements of legacy and community gain” and will “need to display creative factors that lift it above most development projects in the city”.

The Drumcondra deal comes at a time when religious congregations have also put a number of valuable development sites in Dublin on the market. Ageing religious members and a strong property market are among the factors driving the phenomenon.

Meanwhile the State is still awaiting payments of hundreds of millions of euro to the Redress Scheme, established to compensate people who suffered abuse while in residential institutions run by religious congregations.

The congregations affected entered into a legally binding agreement in 2002 to make €128 million in contributions, and a further voluntary agreement to contribute an additional €352 million in the wake of the 2009 Ryan report.

As of last month, €231 million had been paid. The Archdiocese is not part of the Redress Scheme.