Disused Kerry hospitals will not be redeveloped for housing

Two disused landmark hospital buildings in Co Kerry will not be redeveloped for the housing market.

However, Dingle hospital may be revitalised as an arts and education hub while, in a separate disposal of property, the GAA have reached an agreement with the HSE for improved access to Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney with the planned part-acquisition of the f ormer St Finan’s psychiatric hospital site.

Kerry County Council had examined the possibility of utilising, for social housing, the three-storey hospital in Dingle but deemed it unsuitable.

A workhouse in the 19th century, it later became a hospital. Storyteller Peig Sayers died there in 1958. The old hospital has been unused since 2010.

It had been envisaged the council would consider using the site and its listed building to provide accommodation for workers in the tourism industry and, also, single persons on its housing waiting list.

However, the HSE has reached an agreement with Udarás na Gaeltachta and plans are in reportedly in train to convert part of the site into an arts and education centre.

Local Udarás member and county councillor Seamus Cosaí Fitzgerald said the building is being considered as a possible innovation hub and arts facility.

“A local committee approached Udarás and they are now looking at the feasibility of developing it along the suggestions of the local group,” he said.

However, funding to revitalise the building will have to be sourced from other agencies, he added.

The HSE, meanwhile, said disposal was the only option as the hospital was surplus to requirements.

In a statement, the HSE said the property had been offered to state agencies. “Kerry County Council confirmed that they are not interested. Udarás na Gaeltachta indicated they wish to acquire the property and this process is currently being progressed.”

Meanwhile, there are several lines of interest in St Finan’s in Killarney which towers over the town. The hospital and its surrounding lands have been the object of much discussion since it closed last year.

The county council is in negotiations to seek part of the 30-acre site for social housing, the HSE said.

And the HSE may also utilise part of the land for a new community nursing unit in a likely public private partnership (PPP) initiative.

The rest will be sold on the open market if there is no interest from state bodies.

Improved access to Fitzgerald Stadium, the home grounds of the Kerry GAA, is on the cards.

However, the HSE did not discuss any likely plans for the mid-19th-century hospital building which once housed 1,000 people. There have been calls for it to be used as a tourism college cum hotel training facility.

The HSE said it had reached agreement in relation to improved access to Fitzgerald Stadium.

“In line with government policy on the interstate transfer of state property, the remaining property has been offered to state agencies. Kerry Council indicated 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.

“Should there be no further interest in the remaining property at St Finan’s from state agencies, the property will be offered for sale on the open market.”

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