I think they're selling the family silver. Michael McDowell has put Shanganagh Castle in South Dublin on the market.
Growing up near Shankill we used to climb Katty Gallagher, all 912 feet high and look down on the lands between the Dublin Mountains and the sea. Between the village of Shankill and Bray were farms, and in the middle of it all was Shanganagh Castle. It was built in 1408 for the Lawless family.
Michael McDowell told me in a Dáil reply back in 2002: "Shanganagh Castle was opened in 1969 as an open detention centre for males aged between 16 and 21 years of age. The centre, which stands on grounds of 24 acres, has accommodation for 60 inmates. However, it has been increasingly difficult to identify young male offenders suitable for this type of open prison accommodation. Shanganagh Castle had an average offender occupancy of 30 inmates last year and this has fallen again this year, with only 16 inmates being detained there at present. In addition, the full implementation of the provisions of the Children Act, 2001, will mean that 16 and 17 years old inmates must be completely segregated in the prison system, resulting in a further drop in those offenders who might be found suitable for transfer to Shanganagh Castle, and was acquired by the State for young offenders in 1969.
He went on to say that it cost €127,000 to keep an offender there for a year, but that kind of a figure always sounds a bit odd. I'd have thought it would be a perfect location for young offenders. There's a farm attached to the lands, and what better location for young offenders than a place in the country, right beside a proposed DART station? Well, the guide price is €15m, but the Indo thinks it'll go for closer to €30 farm.
If young offenders lose out, how about offering it to first time buyers? The agents CB Richard Ellis tell us that
"the site offers an excellent opportunity to construct a high quality residential development in a prime location, subject to the necessary planning consent... The proposed DART station at Woodbrook will undoubtedly ameliorate the sites potential even further."
It's a curious use of the word 'ameliorate' methinks, but perhaps modern English isn't on the curriculum in Property School.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has bought some of the lands at the front of the site but perhaps the Department of Justice could have offered the Castle and the 6 acres of grounds to Des Geraghty's Affordable Homes Partnership to assist first time buyers. There's also a need for more educational facilities in Shankill.
Maybe some canny investor will put a five star hotel on the site, but for the State to sell such lands all seems a bit short-sighted to me, particularly when the Council hasn't even finished drafting a Local Area Plan for the area.