Former Stardust nightclub to be converted to art studios

Initiative is part of scheme to provide 60 low-cost studios for artists across Dublin city

The former Stardust nightclub in Artane, where 48 young people died in a fire in 1981, is to be converted into artists’ studios as part of a €9 million Dublin City Council plan to provide more than 60 workspaces for artists across the city.

The council is refurbishing or converting five buildings and sites to provide permanent units for artists over the next two years, with half of the 60 spaces expected to be available within the next 12 months.

The buildings, most of which are council-owned, include the former Eden restaurant in Temple Bar, the Filmbase building, also in Temple Bar, 8 and 9 Merchants Quay, and a vacant site at Bridgefoot Street, as well as the Stardust building owned by Xestra Asset Management.

The council has leased the building, now called Artane Place, from Xestra, and has part-funded its conversion into 14 studios for artists ranging from sculptors to choreographers.


A fire at a Valentine’s Day disco in 1981 claimed the lives of 48 people aged between 16 and 27. Inquests are currently being held in Dublin into their deaths.

City arts officer Ray Yeates said the council and Xestra, who have owned the site since 2020, had engaged extensively with survivors, families and communities affected by the tragedy.

“We are in touch with them and we are are sensitive to what the families are going through at the moment as are the owners, but we think it is a wonderful legacy for that building and will be a creative positive legacy.”

The studios at Artane Place have already been allocated to 14 artists, but the remaining spaces in the city will be available to new applicants as their refurbishment and conversion are completed over the coming months, Mr Yeates said.

The largest number of studios will be available at 8 and 9 Merchants Quay, where 21 workspaces will be provided. Number 8 was acquired by the council from the Franciscan order and has at its rear the old St Anthony’s Little Theatre which will be refurbished and brought back into use, while number 9 is a restored Georgian townhouse which has in its basement a preserved Viking-era boat slipway.

Another 20 artists will be accommodated in prefabs on a vacant council site at Bridgefoot Street on a temportary basis pending the construction of a new six-storey building which will provide permanent studios for artists.

The former Eden restaurant, which faces on to Meeting House Square, has been vacant for several years and will be refurbished next year to provide spaces for six artists. The Filmbase building on Curved Street is already home to six arts organisations and will take on additional tenants after essential refurbishment and upgrading, the council said.

The council and the Department of Arts are each providing €3 million in funding for the scheme, with the remaining €3 million coming from a donor who is choosing to remain anonymous.

Rents for the artists will be subsidised with each paying €200-€250 a month. The spaces will be advertised by the council as they become available with leases running from one to three years with the possibility of extensions, to prevent any studios being left unused, Mr Yeates said.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times