HSE engages architects for office plan for Baggot Street Hospital

Victorian building should be transferred to Dublin City Council for housing or cultural use, councillor says

Conservation architects have been engaged by the Health Service Executive to determine a future use for the former Baggot Street Hospital, which could be as “a meeting or administration hub”, a senior HSE official has said.

Local residents and city councillors have long sought the reuse of the abandoned Victorian hospital for housing or cultural and community uses. However, in an update to local councillors in recent days, chief officer of the HSE’s Community Healthcare East division, Aisling Heffernan, indicated it was likely the building would be converted into offices.

“It is planned that the architect will prepare modelling of what the building could be developed into following extensive work,” Ms Heffernan said. “It will not be a suitable space for clinical services, but could operate as a meeting or administration hub.”

The building, which was known officially as the Royal City of Dublin Hospital, was built in 1832, but closed in 1987. Parts of the premises, on the Haddington Road side, were used as a drug treatment and community facility until 2019. It has since been empty, has fallen into significant dilapidation, and has been subject to break-ins.


The Irish Times reported in recent weeks the HSE would consider selling the hospital “should any third party express an interest in the property”. This was set out in a letter by HSE chief Bernard Gloster to the Department of Health in January.

However, Ms Heffernan said the building remained listed on the “intra-State property register” which allows other State organisations first refusal on properties.

Local Fine Gael councillor James Geoghegan said the HSE should immediately transfer ownership of the building to the council.

“It is unbelievably depressing that this building is four years vacant and the best the HSE can come up with is offices. The obvious thing to do, if the HSE doesn’t intend to use it for clinical services, is to transfer it over to Dublin City Council.”

The current downturn in the commercial property market, particularly for older buildings, meant the HSE would not realise the true value of the building if it sold it for offices, Mr Geoghegan said.

“The HSE has treated this building as some sort of deadweight on its balance sheet for the last four years,” he said. “The city council is the right body to determine what should be done with this building, with input from the local community, whether it’s used for affordable housing, or an arts studio, or other community use. So why not transfer it and bring an end to this long saga.”

The Pembroke Road Association, a local residents’ group, last year proposed to the Department of Health that the building could be used as a museum of Viking Dublin.

“The repurposing of the building would complement and assist the preservation of the internal structure. The large ward spaces are suitable for exhibition galleries thereby preserving the nature of the building,” it said.

A spokesman for the HSE said the future of the building “remains under service review”.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times