Fingal council urged not to sell beloved St Columbanus community hall

by Sylvia Pownall
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Fingal County Council has been urged to intervene to prevent the possible sale of a historic Howth building, St Columbanus Hall, widely used by the community.

Labour TD Tommy Broughan says St Columbanus Hall, which may be sold to fund the development of a new pastoral centre, is a protected structure.

A campaign has been launched to save the Nineteenth Century building opposite the Church of the Assumption which has served as a parish centre for many years.

Deputy Broughan was told in reply to a Parliamentary Question that the hall is on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), which should inform the council’s stance on its future.

He said: “I have contacted citizens campaigning to save St Columbanus Hall with this information, as well as contacting Fingal County Council directly.

“Hopefully, the council can intervene in any proposals from the Church to sell this historic building and ensure that the building is kept and protected as part of Howth’s community.”

Minister for Heritage Josepha Madigan said the building was recorded in the NIAH “as being of Regional Importance, qualifying it for recommendation to the local authority for inclusion in its Record of Protected Structures”.

An online petition to save St Columbanus Hall – built as a national school prior to the construction of the Catholic Church – has been supported by almost 1,100 signatories.

The campaign statement outlines: “Generations of children in Howth attended the school, and in later years it became a de-facto community centre used by many groups.

“It is the central part of the living fabric and heritage of the town built and paid for by our ancestors. It belongs to the people of Howth and to the parish.”

Architects have been appointed to progress a planning application for a new pastoral centre behind the church, rumoured to cost around €1.4 million.

But fears are mounting that St Columbanus Hall could be sold to fund it. Church sources have indicated that the sale of the building is just one of several options being explored.

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