20 August 2011

Looking for summer colours through the grey skies and waters in Greystones

The harbour and green and golden fields on the slopes of Bray Head seen from Trafalgar Road and the front of the La Touche Hotel in Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

I’m not sure whether it’s another outbreak of sarcoidosis symptoms, but at the moment I’m coping with pains that run from my neck and my back, into my left shoulder and down my left arm, sometimes making my arm feel cramped and my fingers feel numb, with a sense of tingling.

My medication has been increased, so that my intake of tablets in the morning and the evening looks like the limbs and components of Bertie Bassett and his multi-coloured liquorice allsorts. I have not been sleeping well for the last few nights, but I had enough of self-pity by this afternoon. Distraction is almost as good as a cure, so I decided to head off for a beach walk this afternoon.

We parked close to the harbour at Greystones, Co Wicklow, where the project is causing much controversy. Shops and houses throughout the town display banners demanding the return of the harbour and that the hoarding should be taken down.

The sad facade of the former La Touche Hotel in Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

There’s plenty of hoarding too around the remains of the La Touche Hotel, which was abandoned in 2004 and then suffered fire damage in 2006. Three years ago, my cousin Donal Buckley reported in the Irish Independent that the La Touche Hotel site on Trafalgar was being sold by the receiver, Jim Luby, with an asking price of €15 million. It’s still for sale, but I wonder what the asking price is today?

Allied Irish Banks had appointed Jim Luby of McStay Luby to a number of companies formed on a joint venture basis to develop the 2.2 acre site. They had full planning permission for 85 large apartments, a 1,464 sq m, 10-bedroom hotel and six ground-floor retail and office units with a combined floor space of 818 sq m. The site also includes three residential houses – An Tigin and 'Eureka on Marine Terrace and Cliff Cottage on Marine Road – and an adjoining 0.35-acre site that offered further potential for development.

The site is zoned “town centre” and is located in the heart of Greystones, with frontage onto Trafalgar Road, Cliff Road and Marine Terrace and has superb sea views out onto the Greystones coastline. One of the conditions of the planning permission is that the facade of the original hotel, with its cast iron balconies, is retained in any new hotel.

The hotel was first built as the Grand Hotel and was once an elegant statement of the late Victorian and early Edwardian style of building. Photographs once on display, but probably now lost, showed a large sailing ship moored to the quay of the new Greystones harbour wall, which was built in 1840. Other photograph showed a horse-drawn stagecoach, the houses on the north side of Sidmonton terrace with nothing between them and the hotel.

From the La Touche Hotel we walked on along the cliffs and the coastline to the South Beach. It was late afternoon by now, and the sky and the water were grey in Greystones, with the gulls the only sign of life along the beach.

We walked back into Greystones, had coffee in Insomnia, and collected the Guardian, a bottle of wine, bread and olives for the dinner table this evening. But the clouds had lifted by the time we returned to Trafalgar Road and the site of the La Touche Hotel. The green and golden fields on the slopes of Bray Head were clearly visible, and it was possible – just possible – to imagine that this was a summer evening.



hugs'nkisses said...

The asking price is now EUR3.5mn

Janet McKee said...

Years ago we were quite interested in the end house on Marine Terrace. My husband and a friend (Pat Shaffrey) went to the auction but the bidding went beyond us. I've always followed developments in Greystones. Rather enviously from Dundrum. Alas. Now what can I say from Seattle???