A local authority has expressed a “strategic interest” in acquiring a vacant HSE-owned hospital.
Kerry Co Council is also negotiating for a land surplus at the 30-acre St Finan’s Hospital in Killarney.
However, the council has not given any firm commitment to acquire the Harry Potter-type grey limestone building that has dramatic views over Killarney’s lakes and fells. The Victorian building, one of the best designed of its kind and listed for preservation, will be disposed of to the private sector if no state agency agrees to take it over, the HSE confirmed. It is one of 15 HSE buildings vacant in the old health board region of Cork and Kerry.
The council’s “interest” emerged amid increasing calls for a full-time standalone third level tourism college-cum-training hotel in the country’s oldest tourist town.
President of the local Soroptimists, hotelier Emer Moynihan said a Killarney tourism college would help establish and root a year-round industry in the town.
Cllr Michael Cahill has already pressed the council to lobby for a range of improvements for the tourism industry, and suggested St Finan’s should be considered as a third level college.
Killarney-based Cllr Michael Gleeson said. as well as a tourism college, the building which once housed 1,000 patients, and staff should be looked at for a variety of uses.
“Since 1852, St Finan’s played an economic role in Killarney and now, before it’s too late, a new and vibrant role should be found for it,” he said, hinting at apartments for single or elderly people or a day centre for Alzheimer’s’ patients.
“There are very few who would wish to see the building transferred to private ownership,” Cllr Gleeson said, indicating he would back its use as a centre of excellence for the hotel and catering industry, also.
“I do not want to see St Finan’s end up in private hands,” he added.
An Taisce has decribed the building as “the most architecturally distinguished of the 19th-century Irish mental hospitals, to the design of Sir Thomas Deane”.
“The strongly-modelled architectural composition with triple-gabled central block and long multi-gabled wings with later additions is an attractive example of use of local stone with limestone dressings,” An Taisce architects said in a statement. They found the building fabric to be generally sound, and its overall condition does not necessarily place it at risk.
Meanwhile, the list of HSE owned vacant buildings in Cork and Kerry which will be offered to local authorities and State agencies, or sold off if there is no agreement includes: Heatherside Hospital (Cork), St Kevin’s Hospital (Cork), Dingle Hospital (Kerry), Ballyfeard Dispensary, Carrigaline (Cork), Ballyhooly Dispensary, Fermoy (Cork), Church Cross Dispensary, Skibbereen (Cork), Devlin, Mill Road, Kanturk (Cork), Bandon Former Health Centre, 6 St. Patrick’s Quay, Bandon (Cork), Inchigeela Health Centre (Cork), Mount St Joseph, Passage West (Cork), Youghal Health Centre, Catherine Street, Youghal (Cork), Farranfore Health Centre (Kerry) Kenmare - House at Tousist and , Ardea, Kenmare (Kerry)
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