On the 23rd May All Hallows College, in Drumcondra, Dublin 9 announced "It is with huge regret and deep sadness that All Hallows College today announces its intention to wind down the college.
The college, which is not in receipt of state grants, has been operating at an increasing deficit over many years, and although in recent times it has embarked on a stringent programme of sustainability – including increasing its activities and embarking on an extensive fund-raising programme – the challenging landscape of today’s third level education arena has led to a diminishing of the college’s reserves to an unsustainable level.
In addition, the option of growing enrolment figures has been constrained by the cap on the numbers of undergraduates eligible for the free fees scheme. The wind down of the college will begin immediately and will be conducted in a phased and orderly fashion."
I have walked our dog past, driven past and gone past on my bike numerous times over the last thirty years on visits to Dublin. I remember one summer on a visit to Dublin actually going into grounds for a summer fete. It is indeed very sad to read about the news of the closure in last week's Irish Times and the Jackie Kennedy letters, that had they been auctioned would not have raised sufficient funds to keep the college going.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had very close ties with the college with his parents living close by in Church Avenue and he talked about it a great deal in "Bertie Ahern The Autobiography" as his father worked there.
So what could be the future of this site? Many of the similar estates in the area have been knocked down and sold off for house development, others have been converted into apartments and had house and apartment developments established within the boundary walls.
Could the future be a luxury hotel development and golf course?. It is in an ideal setting, in North Dublin, close to the airport, M1 and M50. Somewhere along the line the history of the College must be preserved. Tearing down those fine old buildings and replacing them with a housing development won't do that, the buildings themselves need to remain.
Maybe the space could be used by another Dublin University or College, but despite the recovery in the country is this the wrong time to embark in such a project. No doubt there will be much debate on what is to become of the site once it finally closes. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens to that landmark set back from the road on Grace Park Road.