OMM

11 years on, prime site is still as it was

The Áras Phádraig building on Lewis Road which was built in 1960

THE Mayor of Killarney is to ask senior Kerry County Council officials to explain the delay in outlining plans for the development of the prime Áras Phádraig site on Lewis Road.

Cllr Brendan Cronin said almost three years have now passed since a public consultation process was facilitated during which community groups, clubs and individuals gave their opinions on what they felt should be developed at the town centre property.

Mayor Cronin, who is to table a motion on the issue at an online meeting of the council next Monday, said it has been over a year since local authority officials promised to present details of a development plan for the important site and he is seeking details on proposals to utilise the potential of the unique location.

The 2,623sq m theatre-style hall and surrounding land had been donated to the people of Killarneyvia the then town council – by the Franciscan Order in 2009 and it has been vacant since then, due mainly to a festering legal hitch and complications with the Charities Regulator.

Mayor of Killarney Cllr Brendan Cronin

A feasibility study and business plan, conducted on behalf of Kerry County Council in 2017, recommended the development of a new integrated multi-purpose facility on the existing Lewis Road site.

The consultants’ report stated that the core components of a new multi-use facility, should include:

  • A contemporary arts and 300-seat theatre space with rehearsal, exhibition and gallery facilities
  • Meeting rooms to be made available for a range of community uses
  • An educational space to accommodate the provision of training and skills courses
  • Office space to suit the particular needs of Killarney town

A key recommendation was that any new facility should be financially self-sustaining and remain in the ownership of Kerry County Council.

Since then senior council officials have worked on the development of masterplan for the Áras Phádraig site, including the adjacent Lewis Road car park, to benefit the wider Lewis Road area and the town as a whole.

The hall was built in 1960 and substantially extended in the mid 1980s. It has been used in the past for concerts, public meetings, election counts, a variety of indoor sporting activities, youth drama and blood donation clinics.

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