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Thursday 2 October 2014

€12m revamp for abbey linked to Mother Teresa

Published 05/03/2014 | 02:30

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta with Gerard and Maria Riney
Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham which has ben purchased by the state.

HISTORIC Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin – which is linked to Mother Teresa – has been rescued from the threat of vandalism and will be resurrected as a new school.

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A total of €12m is to be invested by the Department of Education to transform the 250-year-old complex into a gaelscoil for the south Dublin area.

The Department of Education has just purchased the long-empty school on 4.5 acres for about €2.3m and experts say they will need to invest at least another €10m transforming the crumbling 93,000-sq-ft complex into a modern educational facility. The property has been sold by Savills on behalf of NAMA, while the Department of Education employed local property expert Cathal MacCarthy to act on its behalf in the landmark deal.

Described as 'Hogwarths-style' by some commentators, the size and listed status of the complex means it will cost far more to convert than building a new school. However, given that the State would probably have had to rescue it anyway, the purchase is regarded as a clever move which one property market source described as "killing two birds with one stone". There had been fears for the empty complex since the historic Belcamp College – another historic monastery – was torched by vandals three years ago.

Closed in the late 1990s, Loreto had been a famous boarding school for Catholic girls. Mother Teresa of Calcutta learnt English there in the 1920s.

The abbey has been empty for 15 years following its purchase in 1999 for €14m by Riversmith, a company owned by developer Liam Carroll. He later went bankrupt in the property crash and it was taken over by NAMA, which placed it for sale last August with an asking price of €2.5m.

Last night the department said it would not comment on the cost of conversion due to "commercial sensitivities".

But, it said, it was "satisfied the property" met its needs.

Recently the roof was weatherproofed by NAMA and the house was occupied by live-in 'guardians' provided by the UK-based property minding company Camelot.

In the fast-rising Dublin property market the purchase represents a very good deal for the department, with market sources estimating that the land alone is now worth the price paid. The property was brought to market by the receiver David Carson and sold by Savills.

Irish Independent

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