International best-selling author Colm Tóibín has failed in his battle to prevent James Joyce's 'House of the Dead' on Dublin's quays from being turned into a 54-bed tourist hostel.

It follows An Bord Pleanála giving the green light to convert the house at 15 Usher's Island, Dublin 8 into a tourist hostel.

The address was once home to James Joyce's grand aunts and the setting of Joyce's best known short story, 'The Dead'.

The building was also used as the location for the John Huston directed 1987 movie adaptation of 'The Dead'.

Last October, Dublin City Council granted planning permission to Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes for the tourist hostel scheme.

However, the brakes were put on the development after Colm Tóibín lodged his joint appeal with John McCourt and three other parties also appealed the city council decision to An Bord Pleanála - An Taisce, Friends of Joyce Tower Society and Dermot Kelly.

Now, the appeals board has granted planning after board inspector in the case, Colin McBride recommended that planning be granted.

Mr McBride concluded that "the proposed use is acceptable and would ensure the ongoing active use of a protected structure of special interest".

Mr McBride stated that a planned visitor centre for the address was never fully realised and remarked that the planned cultural use "failed to guarantee an ongoing active use and maintenance of the structure".

Addressing objectors' concerns over the intensification of use of the building, Mr McBride concluded that the planned use of a hostel would be no less intense than the use associated with a visitor centre.

Mr McBride stated that the best way to preserve a structure of architectural value is to provide it with an ongoing use in which it is occupied and maintained.

The inspector noted that the Architectural Impact Assessment refers to Joyce's 'The Dead' and he stated that "the approved proposal does not alter the historic layout of the structure or remove any of the features specifically mentioned in the story".

In his 26 page report, Mr McBride stated that he was satisfied that the level of intervention is reasonable and has adequate regard to the status of the protected structure.


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Mr McBride stated that on the date of his site inspection on 19 February, the structure is in use as a house of multiple occupancy and "is in a neglected condition".

The board granted planning after concluding that the proposal would not detract from the building's cultural significance or the adjoining protected properties.

The appeal included a plea by two descendants of James Joyce

As part of the Tóibín and McCourt appeal, it included a plea by two "blood descendants" of James Joyce, Nicole and Sabrina Joyce to reverse the council decision to grant planning permission.

The appeal also included Normal People author Sally Rooney, along with world renowned authors Salman Rushdie, Richard Ford, Kevin Barry, Edna O'Brien and John Banville, signing an objection against the proposal.

The objection stated: "If this redevelopment is allowed to go ahead, it will disfigure one of the most famous settings in modern literature."

It went on: "We believe that the house of The Dead has the potential to be sensitively developed to become a location capable of attracting tourists…and inspiring new generations of Joyce readers."

The objection further stated: "As we approach the centenary of Ulysses in 2022, we believe that saving this unique piece of our national heritage is an urgent priority."

The objection was backed by the signatures of 3,500 "concerned citizens" who have signed a petition calling on the appeals board to reverse the council's decision.

The comprehensive appeal included a plea from grand-nieces of James Joyce, Nicole and Sabrina Joyce, who live in Dublin, to refuse permission "and save a remarkable piece of Dublin history for generations to come".

In the main text of their appeal, Colm Tóibín and John McCourt argued that if the building "is turned into a high traffic hostel and cafe, what is unique and peculiar to this building will be lost and a vital piece of the cultural tapestry that weaves through Dublin City will be torn out beyond repair".

Consultants for the applicants told the appeals board that the visitor centre use was never viable.

They contended that the proposal "will rejuvenate a dilapidated building and ensure restoration in an appropriate architectural manner".