Muckross Park House
Site under threat as owners seek re-zoning

Dermot Carmody

A site around the historic Muckross Park House in Marlborough Road, Donnybrook, which includes the original house, buildings associated with the old convent and school and surrounding green area would be rezoned if a recent submission to Dublin City Council on behalf of the site’s owners was to be acted on.

The 1.19 ha site shares an entrance on Marlborough Road with Muckross Park College, and was owned by the Dominican order of nuns for some 120 years until they sold it to a development company, Reilly Lands 2012 SPV. The suggestion that the zoning of the land be changed to allow housing development there came in a submission made to Dublin City Council by Dun Laoghaire based planning and development consultants, Brock McClure, on behalf of the new owners as part of the consultation process on the new Dublin City Development plan 2022-28.

The draft development plan proposes that the Z15 zoning of the site be maintained. Z15 is intended to “protect and provide for community uses and social infrastructure.” Z15 lands typically include ‘community related’ developments such as sports grounds, healthcare facilities and, as was the case on the site in question, schools and colleges. The zoning is intended to promote the retention and protection of such lands, which are seen as an important element of the surrounding community.

However in the submission on behalf of Reilly Lands SPV, it is argued not only that this is no longer an appropriate zoning, in the owners’ opinion, for the site, but that in fact the circumstances of the usage of the site have changed materially so that it no longer serves the function that Z15 zoning is intended to protect and support.

In essence, the submission from Brock McClure argues that since the lands in question are no longer owned by the Dominican convent, and are separate from the educational buildings of Muckross Park College which adjoin it, the criteria from maintaining Z15 zoning do not apply. They further argue that failure to rezone for residential development “prevents the opportunity for the existing buildings to form part of an integrated development solution for the site. It is important that the site is re-zoned to facilitate the delivery of viable uses, as the former convent use is no longer sustainable.” The submission also suggests that appropriate residential development on the site would actually open up access to green spaces within such a development for residents of the surrounding area.


The original residential building, Muckross Park House, was built by the Victorian developer Patrick Cranny, who built many houses in Rathmines, Ballsbridge and elsewhere as a private residence for his family, and is a protected structure. Later additions which formed part of the convent, and the chapel which is behind the original house are presumably not subject to such protection. Patrick and his wife Maria Cranny moved there in 1862. In 1896, Maria sold Muckross to the Dominican nuns who opened a school and college in Muckross in 1900. When University College Dublin opened in 1909 the college was no longer needed and only the school continued there, the forerunner of the modern Muckross Park College schools.

However, despite the house being a protected structure, there still might be some concern regarding the preservation of local heritage in the future, should the land be rezoned and residential development on the site go ahead, particularly in the light of the failure of a campaign to save the destruction recently of the house of The O’Rahilly in Herbert Park. In the case of the latter, strong but unsuccessful arguments were made for the heritage and historical value of the property, but the building was demolished before it was possible to have it placed on the protected structure list. Such oversight must not be allowed to happen with Muckross Park House.