Vacant Kerry hospital site set for revamp

The site of St Finan’s hospital in Killarney, Co Kerry, a landmark listed Victorian building overlooking the town, is to be transformed under a plan to create social housing and a community nursing unit.

The campus is also likely to be home to a third-level outreach college, though the specific discipline has yet to be clarified.

The plan for the 30-acre campus was unveiled by the HSE yesterday.

The building has dominated the tourist town since 1852 and has spectacular views of the lakes of Killarney and its mountains. It has been vacant since 2012 and there is mounting concern in Killarney about the complex.

There have been calls in Killarney for St Finan’s to be used as a third-level tourism and catering college.

The council and IT Tralee have approached the HSE, through the interstate transfer of property process, and have been offered at least part of the building and some of the lands.

The HSE came under pressure after a Kerry County Council meeting last week heard that an approach in 2017 by the council for almost six acres of St Finan’s land for public housing was still not finalised. There are 4,000 people on the housing waiting list in Kerry, the meeting was told, and private landlords are being paid over €13m a year for the social housing needs of people.

The HSE last night revealed the land is being transferred for social housing. “Kerry council have confirmed that they wish to acquire 5.77 acres to the north of the Ring Road at Ballydribeen and the disposal of this element is being progressed with Kerry council. The council was currently engaged with Irish Rail regarding improving access to the site,” it said.

The site will also house a community nursing unit, with the HSE intending to lodge a planning application with the council shortly.

While the HSE has not said what the IT Tralee plans are, it confirmed it had expressed an interest and has been offered what remains of the property, excluding the social housing and nursing unit elements.

The HSE “is currently awaiting final confirmation of their continued interest in acquiring the remaining property,” it said in a statement to the Irish Examiner.

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