Delays to opening of women’s refuge on former Magdalen convent site

The old Magdalen Convent in Forster Street: to house new domestic violence refuge.

The planned new COPE Galway refuge in the former Magdalen convent on Forster Street is taking longer than planned, with best estimates for completion now set for late 2019.

The development involves an arduous application process for a Capital Assistance Grant of around €1.16 million through the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.

The detailed design work for the €2.5m overhaul of the protected building has been completed by Simon J Kelly Architects and was approved by the Department and Galway City Council.

Documents are about to be finalised for the publication of tenders, which will be sent to pre-qualified contractors who were selected on the basis of their tender applications last year.

The preferred contractor will be selected by the end of the summer and COPE will then await approval from the Department and the Council, which could take a substantial amount of time.

COPE Galway Assistant CEO Martin O’Connor said the original date of moving in by late 2018 had proved far too ambitious.

“It has taken an awful lot longer than we had hoped and expected. But we are hopeful of moving in by the end of 2019,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“That’s maybe being a bit ambitious. The Capital Assistance Scheme has four stages and processing each stage, getting clarifications and awaiting approval, all takes a great deal of time, which we’ve found out is the experience with projects nationally.

“It’s a challenging design as well because it’s a protected structure so that took some time as well. But if there are no undue delays that’s our aim – end of 2019.”

The convent on 47 Forster Street will be transformed into a domestic violence refuge – the only 24/7 accessible refuge in the West of Ireland.

The project will create nine self-contained residential units, staff accommodation, offices, outreach facilities, meeting rooms and a childcare facility. It will involve the demolition of the existing boiler house, stores, and back rear corridor and the construction of a new extension to the back and an attic extension on the second floor. The refuge will be bounded by new security fences and gated entrance.