Sitting on the clifftop overlooking Rosslare Harbour is yet another monument to the “Celtic Tiger” .
St Helen’s Hotel (formerly the Great Southern) was a popular hotel with both locals and the many tourists that visit the seaside village.
It wasn’t the Four Seasons, but it was a good place to stay – a clean, comfortable hotel in a great location in the heart of the sunny south east. It was, essentially, a nice hotel for ordinary families, ordinary people.
It was the location for countless wedding receptions, birthday parties, gigs, family holidays and all sorts of special and not so special occasions. It also provided employment in the locality.
I’m tempted to use the word “modest”, but that became a dirty word in Ireland several years ago. Modest hotels? Modest profits? Modest prices? No thanks. The site was earmarked for property development.
Read all about the “stylish, modern” hotel here and see some photos of what it looked like not so long ago here. These are just two of many websites still advertising St Helen’s Hotel, indicating how swift its demise has been.
In the space of a year St Helen’s Hotel has become a significant eyesore and a safety hazard. It has been destroyed as quickly and extensively as our economy was.
I paid it a visit and brought a camera with me, capturing the images you see here. It was sad to see what has become of a once fine hotel. This, I couldn’t help thinking, is modern Ireland.
The hotel was closed after a Dublin-based property development company was granted permission to demolish it and build sheltered accommodation for the elderly. You’d pay a pretty penny to retire in Rosslare Harbour.
However, that plan was conceived in different times – no apartments have been built and the hotel has not been demolished, instead it has been allowed to go to rack and ruin. Maybe the hope is that it will eventually be pulled completely apart.
The owners gave the St Vincent de Paul charity permission to take out and sell off all the fixtures and fittings – from beds to radiators and kitchen equipment to mirrors – that were left in it when it closed as it was to be demolished.
The hotel has since been stripped even further, with holes in ceilings, walls and floors, and it is now instead full of all kinds of debris and rubbish – broken glass, beer cans and all the usual suspects.
It is completely accessible from all sides – through a huge amount of doors and broken windows – and, as a result, is attracting plenty of unwelcome visitors and activities.
There have been plenty of complaints about the hotel and Wexford County Council have carried out an inspection and are in contact with the owners, making it clear what they want to see done – sooner rather than later.
Wexford Area Engineer Craig Innes said that there are two main priorities. Firstly, the hotel needs to be cleaned up. He said this would effectively just be a clear out as “there’s nothing of value in it anymore”.
He said that site also has to be made secure, which will involve boarding it up. Mr Innes said this will have to be done in a particular way. “We don’t want it left as an eyesore either, we want it look presentable,” he said, pointing out that it may be some time before the planned development for the site goes ahead – if it ever does.
For the full details on this story check out the Wexford People on Wednesday. The photos above and as many more again from the hotel are in the following slideshow.