New canon for former Ballincollig Gun Store

Set to move from war-mongering and munitions provisioning to worship and prayer is the former Gun Store, a relic of Cork’s Ballincollig Gunpowder Mills.

The 19th century military building housed weapons and explosives, as well as stabling British cavalry horses, is to be converted to a church and parish hub, under the guidance of a pacifist canon.

The limestone-built 14,700sq ft former Gun Store has been bought by the Carrigrohane Union of Parishes.

New uses for the Church of Ireland Anglican community will include church services, youth and children’s activities, meetings and events, as well as daycare for the elderly, according to the union’s rector, Canon Ian Jonas.

He confirmed the purchase of the building which had been part of the Ballincollig Royal Artillery Barracks, which supported and protected the gunpowder mills, which were at their height during the Napoleonic Wars, and in which up to five million civilians and soldiers perished.

The Gun Store was taken, peacefully, by the church after being withdrawn from a July Allsops auction, when it had a guide price of €1.2m-€1.3m.

It was sold off by the giant US private equity group Blackstone, who gained it as part of its €1.1bn purchase of O’Flynn Construction assets from Nama.

Blackstone this week has prepared to sell a further €24m of Ballincollig Barrack Square office assets.

The Gun Store sale price isn’t confirmed, but Canon Jonas said the Carrigrohane Union of Parishes (St Peter’s Carrigrohane, Inniscarra and Blarney) was “blessed with its assets,” and was able to cover the cost of the purchase and fitout over the next year due to a sale of development land at Carrigrohane/Model Farm Road.

Property sources say the church got as much as €3.5m, from the sale of 4.6 acres of land, just gone ‘sale agreed’ via Savills.

Commenting on the change of use from War to Peace — and ironically the Gun Store had been described as being in ‘shell’ condition by Allsops — Canon Jonas quotes Isaiah 2:4 ‘He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks…’

And, on learning that brimstone refining was an activity carried out at the mills to make gunpowder, Canon Jonas promised “we’ll use it sparingly”.

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