Regeneration project to be extended to former bar premises

The Aran Sweater Market at the corner of Quay Street and Quay Lane. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

The former Townhouse Bar premises at Quay Lane – which was flooded on several occasions over the past five years – is set to re-open as a café and retail unit as part of the new adjoining Aran Sweater Market.

GlenAran Ltd recently completed extensive renovations on No 25 Quay Street and numbers 2 to 5 Quay Lane – where sections of a 13th century wall were discovered – to create a retail centre for the sale of high-end knitwear and woollen products.

Last January, the company sought permission for a change of use of 6-7 Quay Lane (formerly the Townhouse and Bazaar) to a ground floor café with retail overhead.

“The proposed developed involves the sensitive refurbishment of an existing city centre protected structure which has been vacant and unused [since mid-2014].

“It is considered that the development will be respectful to its setting and will not be detrimental to the character of the area or the neighbouring protected structures.

“The application would not only contribute to the character of the protected structure, but also to the character of the city itself, given this is a vibrant use.

“This contrasts to the existing disused situation onsite which impacts the vitality of the surrounding properties,” the application reads.

The City Council has approved the application stating: “One must consider that No 6/7 Quay Lane, which has been used most recently as a public house, has been vacant for a number of years and it was noted during a site inspection that the building is suffering from dampness due to lack of use, heating and ventilation.

“In this context, the proposal to bring the building back into use is welcome as is the proposal to remove modern interventions, with a view to showcasing the existing medieval fabric on site.

“The scheme offers several positive features, most notably the proposal to bring back into use a vacant property in a prominent area, in close proximity to the entrance of the pedestrianised heart of Galway City,” planners said.

A total of 19 conditions were attached to the planning permission, including a stipulation that an archaeologist and a conservation architect must be employed on site to monitor and record works.

They ordered that the café unit on the ground floor must operate separately from the adjoining units and upper floor levels, and there must be no internal link – this is due to City Development Policy designed to protect the medieval legacy of the city centre.

No change of use of the café/restaurant can take place without a prior planning application, and it cannot be used for the sale or consumption of hot food outside the premises.

GlenAran Ltd is owned by the MacCarthy family from Glengarriff in West Cork. They bought No 25 Quay Street and numbers 2 to 5 Quay Lane at the end of 2015 for a price which auctioneers said was “significantly in excess” of its €600,000 guide price, while No 6-7 Quay Lane are owned by pub and hotel magnate Louis Fitzgerald (who owns the Quays bar) and his son Edward.

For the year-ended September 2017, the company reported a turnover of €8.1 million and an after-tax profit of just over €1m.