06 Jul 2022

'We are so relieved' - Portlaoise Parish Priest on sale of parochial house

'We are so relieved' - Portlaoise Parish Priest on sale of parochial house

Portleix House in Portlaoise, just announced as sold by Portlaoise parish

The Portlaoise parish priest Monsignor John Byrne has welcomed the sale of a landmark historic building that was on the market for the past five years.

Portleix House, the former parochial house and parish centre for Portlaoise, has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a developer, including the lands behind it.

The old parochial house would have been too expensive for the parish to restore, Msgr Byrne told the Leinster Express.

“We are relieved that we were able to sell the old parochial house. From a parish point of view it would have been very difficult to develop anything meaningful and to restore it. It is a very historical building and needs lots of TLC," he said.

"We are looking forward to seeing development take place on the whole site.

“Our original intention was that it was an opportunity to market it as a single property. That didn’t work out, it was bought in bits and pieces. 

“It will open that whole site to the Main Street when the new development on the convent is completed. I hope it will breathe new life into that part of the town and Main Street.

“The developer I’m sure has plans, he hasn’t submitted any planning application yet but he has told me that as a courtesy he will show me the plans. I cannot give details but I am sure that what happens will be appropriate. 

The funds raised he said will be put towards future parish developments. 

In all the lands, mostly owned by the Presentation Provincialate sisters, forms about three acres of stragetic land in Portlaoise town centre. It is zoned as Town Centre Primary, meaning it can be for retail, commercial, institutional, recreational or educational needs.

The house is a listed three storey over basement building built in 1810 as a private home for Dr John Jacob who founded the county infirmary. 

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage describes it as a highlight of Portlaoise’s architectural heritage.

"From 1912 the house was used as the Parochial House. It occupies a prominent position in the town and retains a wealth of original fabric both externally and internally. The Doric portico and doorcase is one of the finest in the town. Although in need of sensitive maintenance and conservation, the house along with its boundary walls and courtyard outbuildings is one of the highlights of Portlaoise's architectural heritage, further enhanced by its historic association with the Jacob family.”

In 2016 The parish and the Presentation Provincialate put the bundled 8 acre site up for sale at a guide price of €2.5 million. It included the convent site and school, now being developed for social housing and community use, and the Sacred Heart school inside the town fort walls, which was bought by Laois County Council and houses Laois School of Music. 

Map below shows the final sections of land just bought, on the left of the photo bordering the Triogue River.

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