The former Sliabh an Iarainn hotel. Photo: Asylum Archive website
A Ballinamore area councillor has suggested converting a derelict hotel into one bedroom apartments for the elderly.
The former Sliabh an Iarainn Hotel in Ballinamore has remained empty since its use as asylum accommodation ended a number of years ago.
It has fallen further into disrepair and has been highlighted as an 'eyesore' by the local community.
At Monday's Municipal District meeting, Cllr Caroline Mulvey suggested the conversion of the former hotel into one bedroom apartments where the elderly, who may be living alone and struggling to upkeep larger rural houses, could move.
“Not only would there be apartments they could rent or buy, we could also have facilities in the hotel where they could do courses or activities,” she said.
“I think there are a lot of elderly people living alone in three or four bedroom houses in rural areas and they would love the opportunity to move into a town like Ballinamore where they would be in a secure location in the centre of town, would have access to medical services and shops and could live in a community setting.”
She pointed out a similar project had been carried out very successfully in Naas, Co Kildare. McAuley Place, a former convent, now boasts residential apartments, tea rooms, a community centre and an arts and culture centre.
This was a community led project and Cllr Mulvey hoped something similar could be done in Ballinamore.
Initially Cllr Mulvey asked the Council to purchase the former Ballinamore hotel, however she was told this would not be possible. It was also pointed out that, if an elderly person already owned their own home, they would not be eligible for social housing under a council housing project.
Cllr Mulvey suggested the Council liase with the local community to see what supports could be offered if a group wished to take on such a project.
Head of Finance, Vincent Dwyer said the Council could certainly work with community groups on this idea. He said if anyone was interested the Council would be happy to hear of any potential future use for this site.