Friday 18 October 2019

Dublin residents rally to 'save our convent' amid plans to build 155-bed nursing home on grounds

Presentation Convent in Clondalkin, Dublin
Presentation Convent in Clondalkin, Dublin
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A GROUP of residents in Dublin 22 have organised a rally in a bid to prevent building plans for a nursing home on the grounds of a convent.

The ‘Save Clondalkin Convent’ campaign was launched over the summer after planning details were published by South Dublin County Council in May for a new development at the Presentation Convent.

The planning application revealed proposals for a nursing home and a retirement home for nuns on the grounds of the 160-year-old convent.

The convent is currently used by the Presentation Sisters, and the building application was submitted by capital property group Bartra.

Clondalkin convent, Dublin 22
Clondalkin convent, Dublin 22

The proposal outlines plans for a “nursing home building comprising of 155 bedrooms and all associated ancillary accommodation in a part three, part four storey building located on the lands to the south and west of the convent building”, as well as a retirement home comprising of 14-bedrooms connected to the home.

But the plans have faced backlash from the community, who claim that the convent is an integral part of the area.

They say that the new plans will have an impact on nearby schools who use the grounds as a playground, as well as birds and bats that live in the cloister. Residents have also said that the height of the building will block the view of the historical convent.

After launching a petition against the project, one local resident Monica McGill said that the community is “frustrated” over a lack of response to their protests.

Ms McGill claims that over 70 objections have been submitted to the council against the plan.

“Most of the local churchgoers didn’t realise how big the building would be. Our sympathies are with the nuns, these are elderly ladies who need somewhere else to live in, other than a building that was completed in 1847, but the general population is dismayed about the convent plans,” Ms McGill told Independent.ie.

“We have other ideas for accommodating the nuns and uses in the future for the convent, but nobody has asked us.”

Ms McGill explained that locals have helped with the convent upkeep voluntarily over the last number of years, and that the new building proposal would take a hit on the town’s history.

“Local people have run all types of fundraising efforts to help the nuns and upkeep the convent. Free labour and that has always been the tradition, people haven’t charged anything,” she said.

“We’re passionate about our heritage, so much of the heritage has disappeared over the years. We want to preserve what’s there, it’s a wonderful place to live.”

The objections have received support from local politicians including Sinn Fein's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD, who called on members of the public to sign the petition to “keep the site in community ownership”.

While Cllr Francis Timmons said his main issue with the proposal was that it would "change the look of our historic village".

"There is a lack of engagement from the Presentation Sisters and I would ask that they engage with the campaign group," he told Independent.ie.

"If the proposal goes ahead there is the likelihood that a swift bird colony will be gone, traffic will increase, local schools will be affected and the old wall of Clondalkin will be changed - this will be a four story red brick building that will wrap around the current building’."

Bartra, the private developer behind the Clondalkin plans, received backlash over the summer for a proposed 208-bedroom co-living unit at Eblana Avenue, Dún Laoghaire.

It was criticised by local Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett who called the units “unaffordable, box rooms” and “Dickensian”.

A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council said that a decision on the convent appeal is due on October 21. Members of the public will be able to view the decision on An Bord Pleanala's website.

"The Planning Authority has no further comment to make on the application," they said.

Independent.ie has contacted Bartra and the Presentation Sisters for comment.

  • The rally is due to take place on Saturday September 28. More information on the petition can be found here.

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