All Hallows College has announced its campus in the north Dublin suburb of Drumcondra is to be sold to Dublin City University.

DCU says that because the facility is only 300 metres from its St Patrick's Campus, it will form an integral component of the 'new DCU'.

In a statement this evening, DCU says this will follow next year's merger under DCU's aegis of three teacher education colleges: St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, the Mater Dei Institute and the Church of Ireland College of Education.

Thirteen months ago, All Hallows announced it was winding down its activities because of financial difficulties.

Days earlier college authorities controversially withdrew from sale an archive of correspondence between the late US first lady, Jackie Kennedy, and the late Fr Joseph Leonard, who had been a member of the college's Vincentian community.

The move followed objections from Mrs Kennedy's family. However, Fr Patrick McDevitt, the college president, said there had been no intention to hurt the family by offering the documents for sale.

Following the discovery of Father Leonard's mislaid will last year, the letters were found to belong to the Vincentian order and not to the College which had been run by it since the 1890s. They were returned to the Kennedy family.

Last May, Father McDevitt, told RTÉ News the withdrawal from auction of the letters, most of them dating from more than 50 years ago, had a very significant bearing on the decision to close the college.

At that stage, as a constituent college of Dublin City University, All Hallows employed about 80 staff and had 450 full-time and 500 part-time students.

It now has 250 full-time students pursuing degrees relating to human service, social justice and ethical leadership in society, church and culture. 

A spokesperson said this evening that next September, only third and fourth years, together with part-time and a few research students will remain, leaving a student body of 120.

DCU says it will continue to work closely with All Hallows' Board of Trustees and its remaining 59 staff to ensure that existing All Hallows students can complete their degree programmes as part of the College's wind-down activities over the next 18 months.

The DCU statement says it welcomes "this unique opportunity to preserve the All Hallows Campus as an educational facility and to continue its long and distinguished history in education and social justice." 

The purchase "will provide the University with additional space and facilities to allow DCU to respond to the growing demand for its programmes."

 All Hallows has been a college of DCU for the past eleven years.

Its buildings - most of them dating from the nineteenth century - contain over 12,000 Sq. M (130,000 sq. ft.) of accommodation.  Its centrepiece, Drumcondra House, is widely credited as amongst the finest examples of early Irish Georgian style.

In his statement, Fr McDevitt said:

'We are very proud of the All Hallows legacy - this college has educated generations of students to be effective leaders engaged in justice and service, serving communities in every corner of the world since 1842.

"Whilst it is sad that a Catholic, Vincentian institution with such a rich history must wind down, there is much to be proud of and to celebrate in the many years of service for this beautiful and historical college.'