After lying vacant for the past 13 years and falling into an increased state of dereliction, plans have been put forward to Leitrim County Council to renovate and retain the Abbey Manor Hotel in Dromahair. This includes the provision of ten bedroom accommodation suites. Stephen Holland reports.
After years of dereliction, the site of the former Abbey Manor Hotel in Dromahair is finally set to be renovated.
This comes after a sale of the protected structure, which is located on the main street in the village, was finalised to Dromaprop Limited at the end of last year. The company, which was set up on August 3, 2021, has two directors, Declan and Theresa Hallinan.
While it has not be confirmed exactly what the new owners intentions for the structure are, the site notice released by Leitrim County Council outlined the renovation plans which were acknowledged by the council’s planning department on July 15, these plans include the development of ten bedroom suites at the location.
The planned developments pertain to both areas within the protected area at the front of the hotel, and the extension at the rear of the site which does not fall under protective status.
The first item is the application for permission to retain and complete renovations and alternation to the Abbey Manor Hotel, including the original protected structure.
On the first-floor level there are plans to reconfigure the existing bedroom layout and provide suite accommodation; these renovations will take place in both the rear extension of the site, which are outside with original protected structure, and also to existing bedrooms within the protected structure.
On the ground floor there are plans to turn the public bar, rear lounge area and offices within the protected structure into further bedroom suite accommodation. Further plans include the conversation of the front lounge bar into a dining room or café.
The existing night club, plant room, store, cold rooms and sanitary facilities in the structure’s basement are set to be turned into bedroom accommodation.
The roof of the hotel is also set to be re-slated along with the provision of new retaining walls. There will not be any increase to the floor area of the building and the proposed plan includes ten new bedroom suites.
Besides the conversion of the front lounge bar into a dining room or café, the development description does not include individual kitchen or cooking facilities for guests or residents.
Reports from the Leitrim County Council planning department indicate the development will include the demolition of part of the structure and that the plans will not require an environmental impact statement.
The application fee for this site was €13,336.80. This includes the retention and completion of 1024 square metres at a rate of €10.80 to a total of €11,059.60, the conversion of existing bedroom accommodation for €2037.60, the reconfiguration of bedroom layouts for €80, demolitions for €80, and evaluation changes to site works for €80.
The Abbey Manor Hotel was first opened in 2004 by the then Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy, it closed after just five years in 2009 and since then the hotel, which is a protected structure built over 200 years ago, has fallen into a serious state of disrepair, being a target for vandalism and anti-social behaviour and left to become derelict.
For some time, Leitrim County Council had difficulty locating the owners of the structure and later planned to pursue legal action against the then owners for non-compliance of previous dereliction notices.
The renovation of the hotel has long been a goal within the Dromahair community with a Facebook page dedicated to the cause going back as far as 2011 attracting more than 1,300 members.
One local representative who has for a long time outlined the need to address the dereliction of the site is Fianna Fáil Cllr Mary Bohan who stated that while the community is disappointed that it is unlikely the site will reopen as a hotel, that overall new accommodation available in Dromahair is a positive development for the area.
“The community and public representatives were disappointed when the hotel closed in 2009. At the time there was hope another operator would come in and run it, but nothing happened. Over the years, I had several motions before the council calling on them to get in touch with the owners and find out what was happening with it,” she said.
“It got into a very poor state of disrepair, it was vandalised, and as with empty buildings there tends to be break ins, there were people going in and drinking in it.”
On September 1, 2015, there was a fire at the abandoned structure which Cllr Bohan stated was very worrying for those living near the area, as well as the potential damage it could have done to the protected structure.
After a number of years, the council served derelict site notices to the former owners and some repairs works were carried out to ensure that the building was secure and the public did not have access to it, although Cllr Bohan said that the aesthetics of the building were quite unsightly with windows bolted and secured.
“The latest position as I understand it, was that it has been sold to a new owner and it’s not going to be used as a hotel, although it is going to provide accommodation, bedroom suites and a dining area for the people who are using those suites. An application is before the council now so the local community will have a couple of weeks to make their observations known, if people have any objections or need to know more information relating to it,” she said.
Cllr Bohan said members of the public she has spoken to have voiced their disappointment that the site will not reopen as a fully functioning hotel, however most are satisfied that accommodation will be provided in some shape or form.
“There is a shortage of accommodations for people coming to the area and there are so many attractions. Dromahair is a beautiful village with a lot going for it, people come from Sligo to Glencar waterfall, which of course is in Leitrim. Around Manorhamilton, Fowley’s Falls, Parke’s Castle, and a whole array of walkways for people to see. It is important that accommodation is provided for them, that is something good coming out of this, but as I said people would like if there was a functioning hotel in Dromahair,” she said.
“It’s important the community knows this has to go through the whole rigours of the planning process and they will have an opportunity to make their observations if they wish to do so. I know the council were in consultation with the owners and it was made clear they would need planning for a change of use.”
Speaking as a member of the local community, activist Bernie Linnane outlined the benefits and potential of putting this historic building back into use.
“I am delighted to see the building preserved because it’s a wonderful building, I am delighted to see that it could be used for accommodation and I would be disappointed if it wasn’t used in some way for accommodation from a tourist point of view,” she said.
“We have nothing in Dromahair, we don’t even have a decent B&B for if we have visitors here. There might be a couple of AirBnb places but there’s nowhere to tell people you’ll be looked after there, you’ll get a good breakfast and so on.
“It’s a beautiful building in and of itself, even outside of its function as a hotel, it would be a shame to see it destroyed. I am happy to see something being done with it, happy the building is being preserved. It would be wonderful to see it being used as accommodation for visitors to the area.”