Former seminary to be sold to GAA for housing, hotel and sports facilities

Dublin Archdiocese plans to sell former Holy Cross College Seminary and surrounding land on Clonliffe Road in ‘exclusive’ deal

The seminary, which dates from the mid-1800s, sits opposite Croke Park Stadium and its lands are already used for parking on match days.

One of the largest plots of Catholic church-owned land on the northside of Dublin city is to be sold to the GAA by the Archdiocese of Dublin for the development of housing, sports and hotel facilities.

The Archdiocese of Dublin has said it plans to sell the former Holy Cross College Seminary and surrounding land on Clonliffe Road in an "exclusive" deal with the GAA, without putting the property on the market.

The seminary, which dates from the mid-1800s, and is a protected structure, sits opposite Croke Park Stadium and its lands are already used for parking on match days. There are also existing pitches used by the GAA on the site which is next to the Archbishop's Palace on Drumcondra Road.

In a statement, the archdiocese said the development would, subject to planning permission, include social, affordable and private housing, sports facilities for children and young adults as well as a hotel and commercial opportunities providing employment for people living in the area.


The development would be “one of the most significant community projects for the north city in many years”, the statement said.

The former Mater Dei building, which the archdiocese last year made available to Dublin City Council for use as a homeless family hub, currently operated by Crosscare on behalf of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, will not be affected by the deal, the statement said.

Vatican approval

The council's deputy chief executive and head of housing Brendan Kenny said he had not been made aware of the deal and could not comment further at this stage.

A spokesman for the GAA confirmed talks with the archdiocese were “at an advanced stage” but would be making no further statement until the agreement had been given Vatican approval.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said the project represents a vital opportunity for the Church in Dublin to reimagine its place in the life of the city at a time of enormous change and challenge, the archdiocese statement said.

“The Archbishop said it is a priority for the diocese to ensure the buildings and lands would be used for the benefit of the local community and a legacy for the city of Dublin.”

It is planned to relocate diocesan support services from the old seminary to a smaller, purpose built, modern pastoral centre with meeting rooms, educational facilities and office space and oratory, it said.

Holy Cross College has not functioned as a seminary since 2000 and the sale would generate funds which will assist in the training of priests for ministry in the archdiocese, it added.

The archdiocese acknowledged there were protected structures on the site and said it was “working closely with architectural experts to ensure the proper preservation of historical and sacred objects and fixtures in the event that a sale proceeds”.

The upkeep of the historic building has been a “significant burden on diminishing diocesan resources and it is no longer financially sustainable or prudent for the diocese to retain a property of this size and scale, which is no longer fit for its purposes”, it said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times