Photo by Cónal Thomas

Dublin City Council has purchased Kilmainham Mills in Dublin 8 and intends to use the site for heritage purposes, says Lord Mayor Nial Ring.

Located near the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and dating back to the 16th century, the parcel of land spreads over 3,395 square metres and lies along the Camac River.

The mill site has sat idle for a number of years following a scuppered plan to redevelop it into apartments, and later failed efforts by the council to buy it.

“I’m delighted,” says Ring, an independent local councillor. “The city council has shown great initiative here.”

A Long Saga

Last year, the council issued an endangerment notice, as it was worried about the property, and said the receiver needed to make repairs and clear overgrown vegetation.

Now the council has purchased the site from the receiver and plans to redevelop it for community and heritage purposes, says Ring. (He doesn’t know how much the council is paying for the site, and it’s unclear if all the paperwork has been signed yet.)

“It’ll be more or less for heritage,” he says. “Obviously community, too. But the city council will sit down and look at various options at what we can do.”

Michael O’Flanagan, who heads up the Save Kilmainham Mills campaign, which aims to see the site restored for heritage use, says he has been assured by council Chief Executive Owen Keegan that Kilmainham Mills “would be an entirely heritage project”.

O’Flanagan says he’d like to see access for locals form part of any future restoration.

Kilmainham Mills should form “the third leg of tourism in the area” after the Royal Hospital and Kilmainham Gaol, he says.

“It could be the heart of the cultural quarter,” he says. “It’s a huge day for Kilmainham.”

First Things First

Maurice Coen, a Kilmainham resident who tried to purchase and restore Kilmainham Mills alongside Dublin City Council five years ago, says it’s important to repair the mill’s roof before anything else.

“Something will have to happen pretty soon,” Coen says. “Hopefully it’s not going to be left on the back burner and that it will turn out to be a beautiful cultural and heritage centre.”

Independent Councillor Paul Hand says Kilmainham Mills is now one of the few publicly owned industrial heritage sites in the city. “The project has to be ambitious.”

It is unclear right now what will happen to Damien Shine – who failed to redevelop the site in 2003 and lives on the site as de-facto caretaker – now that the council has struck a deal to purchase it.

Shine could not be reached for comment.

Says Lord Mayor Ring: “The bottom line is that it will be used.”

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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