Nuns have sold Donnybrook Convent in a deal that put a ‘conservative’ £20million valuation on the site

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The Dominican nuns have sold their former convent in Donnybrook to property developers in a deal that potentially put a ‘conservative’ valuation of €20m on the Dublin 4 site.

Last year’s deal was revealed in a planning submission to Dublin City Council by the new owners of the 1.19 hectare property off Marlborough Road, who want it to be zoned for housing in this which would be considered a prime location.

The Muckross Park House site is next door and shares an entrance with Muckross Park College, one of the best known girls’ secondary schools in the southern city. The last remaining nuns left the site three years ago, ending their 120-year presence on the property which the Dominicans acquired in 1900 for £4,000.

Muckross Park House and its surrounding lands are now owned by a company, Reilly Lands 2012 SPV, whose directors Gerald McGreevy and Seán McGreevy are based in Co Down.

Neither the directors nor the Congregation of Dominican Sisters responded to calls from the Irish Times. But the sale was spelled out in a letter to Seán McGreevy from Sr Martina Phelan, prioress of the congregation, included in the company’s recent submission to city council on its draft development plan.


“We closed the convent in 2019, on health footing [and] security report, with institutional use discontinued at that time and we then sold the property to you in 2021, for alternative uses,” reads the letter signed by Sr. Martina Phelan on February 11.

Current valuations

“I can confirm on behalf of the Order that the property in question, comprising the former Dominican Convent at Muckross Park House, Marlborough Road, is no longer required by the Dominican Sisters for the purposes of our functions and mission.”

According to a senior real estate professional, current valuations put a potential price of “over 20 million euros” on the site even without residential zoning. The almost 1.2 hectare site covers around 2.94 acres, and such a property has fetched between 5 and 7 million euros per acre lately.

In its submission to council, Reilly Lands 2012 SPV said the proposed “community and social infrastructure” zoning on the site was “no longer appropriate” and instead called for “residential neighborhood” zoning. “This would allow for integrated residential development with large open public space for a well-located site that is consistent with compact development and brownfield development objectives.”

The company is a subsidiary of McGreevy Investment Holdings Ltd of Dundalk, Co Louth, whose ultimate control is Gerald McGreevy. The parent company had retained earnings of 37.6 million euros in November 2020, according to its latest accounts.

In a booming real estate market, the Muckross Park deal is another example of a Catholic religious order selling off valuable real estate that it has owned for generations. As priests, nuns and friars age and vocations dwindle, Jesuit and Carmelite orders as well as the Spiritan Congregation and the Order of St. Augustine have been linked to multi-million dollar land sales. euros.

Church bodies have long ranked among the largest and most sophisticated property owners in Ireland, with extensive properties throughout the state. Although the sale of church land has been a feature of the industry for decades, sales in recent years have coincided with rising valuations as the housing market experiences a new boom.

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