Augustinian church and school site in New Ross selling for €150,000

Appeal made for housing on historic Augustinian Church 1.24ac site

10/2/2022 Augustinian church and bildings up for sale. Photo; Mary Browne

10/2/2022 Augustinian church and bildings up for sale. Photo; Mary Browne

10/2/2022 Augustinian church and buildings up for sale. Photo; Mary Browne

David LoobyNew Ross Standard

The Augustinian Church, priory, old Good Counsel school, dorm, and adjoining buildings – sitting on a 1.4 prime New Ross site – are not of interest to Wexford County Council for development.

This newspaper has learned the site – selling with a guide price of €150,000 – was offered to council officials by Augustinian Friars, but the offer was rejected.

Thousands of Wexford, south Carlow and south Kilkenny people got their secondary education in the old Good Counsel classrooms.

Outlining the building’s history, Augustinian Friar, Fr Michael Collender OSA, said: “The Augustinian church and school have a long history where they are currently located in the town of New Ross. Historical sources state that the church opened in 1835.”

The school was built near the church, and opened on September 8, 1890.

Fr John Furlong OSA named the school Good Counsel College, and when it first opened it had 40 day pupils. In 1897 accommodation was provided at the school for students to board.

In 1910, the then rector of the college, Fr Dominic Nolan OSA had new classrooms and dormitories built and the college became a boarding school and a day school. It became necessary again in 1932 to provide more classroom and dormitory accommodation, as the school grew.

Auctioneer John Radford is selling the property.

Speaking in the old church – with its booming acoustics, he said the property listing is unique in that it offers a lot of prime space, with a church at one side – which has limited use – and several buildings to the rear – which, he said, would be ideal for a developer looking to build apartments. “ A big open space like that – what would it cost to build it!”

Several people reside in the spacious apartments in the Priory, which have shared kitchens and afford views of the river.

He said the church would be ideal for a community hall, or as a restaurant or music venue, adding that there are graves around it, which cannot be touched.

Walking through the buildings – which are in various states of disrepair – is like going back in time. The vestry and rooms used by the friars, dorm students, the old hall and the classrooms, are redolent of old Ireland.

A public, private partnership would work here,” Mr Radford said, as he showed us the labyrinthine buildings.

Having twice sold Loftus Hall, he said the Augustinian complex is similar in that it has wonderful potential.

"This town needs a good heart in it that is beneficial to the area. Maybe the council or a council body could buy it. You can see with the greenway and other projects that there is some momentum in the place.”

The church alone offers 356sqm. The former college is 650sqm and the residence is 511sqm.

Sold in one lot, the property has access to High Hill, Chapel Lane and Mary Street.

The four-storey parochial house over a basement features 11 bedrooms on the upper four floors. The building to the rear offers a flat roofed single storey building and the former college building stands derelict. The site also includes the old ball alley and adjacent smaller buildings.

"A building in the Bullawn was paid for today for €105,000. How many of them would you fit into here? It needs work, but the building is dry and there are sections still in use.”

One resident described the Priory building as a fantastic place to live. With high ceilinged rooms, some of which have religious iconography, Camelot are renting some of the properties.

"The classrooms need to be knocked but the old dormitory building would be ideal for a hostel. There will be stepped access off of Mary Street. I do believe a developer could buy the property and do something with the church as a community based project. There is scope to retro-fit the numerous apartments for tourism or residential purposes. There is a lot of building. what would it cost to build it all!”

At Wednesday’s New Ross Municipal District meeting, Cllr Michael Sheehan called on the property section of council to make a bid on the site.

District director Eamonn Hore said: “I’m not too sure we should make a bid. If there is big interest from the private sector who knows what will come of that.”

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