Council approves sale of Dublin’s Plough Pub at €380,000 loss

Apartments to be developed at site opposite Abbey Theatre following €550,000 sale

Dublin city councillors have approved the sale of the historic Plough Pub opposite the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, for €550,000, representing a loss to the council's coffers of at least €380,000.

The council is to sell the pub, which it has owned since 2017, so it can be redeveloped as apartments. Council officials had initially proposed to then lease or purchase the apartments from the private developer for use as social housing.

Councillors on Tuesday approved the sale on the basis the council would have first refusal on the purchase of the apartments, and would not enter into a long-term leasing arrangement with the developer. The purchase price will be at “an agreed market value” councillors were told.

The pub, at the corner of Abbey Street and Marlborough Street, had been a popular meeting spot for theatregoers, but closed more than a decade ago. The four-storey Victorian building, which is on the record of protected structures, became increasingly dilapidated and by 2014 had been boarded up. In 2017, the council bought the pub to stop it from falling into further decay.


“The property was in a derelict condition, boarded up and infested with rodents and pigeons,” it said. An inspection noted parts of the roof were missing with a “large number of plastic bags containing bird droppings stored throughout the building”.

The council had initially hoped to reach a deal with the Abbey Theatre, which had “expressed an interest in utilising the buildings when refurbished”. However, no agreement was reached.

The council said in April it had spent €70,000 on emergency work to the building, but would not say how much it had paid for the pub, as the information was "commercially sensitive". However, a recent report from the council's head of planning Richard Shakespeare said the council bought the pub four years ago for €800,000.

In an update to councillors on Tuesday, Paul Clegg of the planning department said the council had bought the building for €850,000 and spent €80,000 dealing with the “rodent infestation”. He acknowledged the council would be “taking a hit” by selling for €550,000. However, he said: “We think it’s a good hit in terms of getting rid of dereliction on that street, and dealing with dereliction on a prime corner site which is a stone’s throw from O’Connell Street. So on balance we think it is the right deal.”

Six apartments are expected to be developed at the site. Mr Clegg said it was the advice of the council’s housing department that it would take “four to five years” if the council was to build the apartments itself, instead of selling to a developer.

Mr Shakespeare said it was the opinion of the city valuer that the deal represented “value for money in a challenging economic environment, will remove dereliction, and restore these buildings into productive use”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times