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College interest in hospital site didn’t last

The St Finan’s Hospital property which is now vacant

A CALL by the Mayor of Tralee for the St Finan’s Hospital complex in Killarney to be used as a third level campus had previously been proposed, on a number of occasions, by the current Mayor of Killarney and other public representatives.

But councillors in Killarney were told that although the Institute of Technology Tralee had initially expressed an interest in the building, it later opted out and a third level outreach college was not being considered for the site.

Although Tralee mayor Cllr Jim Finucane, who is a member of the board of governors at IT Tralee, said this week that the new Munster Technological University presented an opportunity to develop a college campus on the St Finan’s site, the proposal has been on the agenda in Killarney for several years, with Mayor Michael Gleeson leading the campaign.

KillarneyToday.com revealed last November that an application from Kerry County Council to acquire 5.66 acres of HSE land was the only expression of interest received from any state body when the St Finan’s land was offered.

As a result, a decision was made to invite private bids and it is understood that a number of interested parties have already visited the site.

The Mayor of Tralee Cllr Jim Finucane
Mayor of Killarney Cllr Michael Gleeson

“There has been no further interest in the former St Finan’s building and surrounding lands and so it is the HSE’s intention to dispose of the remainder of this property, via public sale, in the near future,” senior HSE officials confirmed.

The HSE itself is to retain part of the campus for a public private partnership development of a new 10,045sq m community nursing unit which is earmarked for a site adjacent to the bypass road.

Mayor Michael Gleeson had earlier proposed that the site be developed either as a centre for distance learning, with student accommodation, or as apartments for retired people.

As far back as 2016, Cllr Michael Cahill also called for the St Finan’s complex to be developed as a third level training college.

“The building and the adjoining lands present many opportunities for Killarney and for Kerry. This is the last major development site within the town boundary and it has huge potential,” Cllr Cahill said at the time.

Crucially, however, at a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council in March 2019, councillors were told that while the Institute of Technology Tralee had initially expressed an interest in discussions with the HSE, it later opted out and a third level outreach college was not being considered for the site.

The protected structure hospital building, constructed in 1846, has been vacant since 2012.

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