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New Ballina restaurant design to add ‘wow’ factor for diners


Sherry FitzGerald co-founder submits plans to turn former pub into a ‘high-quality hospitality destination’

Anton McNulty

A HIGH-profile Dublin estate agent plans to turn a closed pub in the centre of Ballina into a restaurant which will provide a ‘high-quality tourism and hospitality destination’ and add a ‘wow’ factor for diners.
Mark FitzGerald, co-founder and chairman of Sherry FitzGerald estate agents, submitted plans to Mayo County Council to turn the former Gaughan’s pub on O’Rahilly Street, Ballina into an 80-seater licensed restaurant, along with an outdoor seating area in an enclosed courtyard between O’Rahilly Street and James Connolly Street.
The proposed development is designed by the award-winning Paul Keogh Architects. They said the design intention behind the remodelling is to provide a ‘contemporary dining experience’ akin to that of the Airfield Cafe in Dundrum and The Boathouse Bar and Grill located in Shrewsbury in England. Both premises were designed by PKA.
“The development will provide Ballina town centre with a high-quality tourism and hospitality destination which the town is currently lacking,” explained Paul Keogh in the planning application. He added that the proposed vaulted rear dining space will add a ‘wow’ factor to the overall development.
Son of the late former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, Mark FitzGerald has a long association with north Mayo, having holidayed in the Pontoon area since the late 1970s and has a house in Terrybaun near the shores of Lough Conn.
He recently purchased the premises known as Gaughan’s pub on O’Rahilly Street and Gaughan’s Flat on James Connolly Street with a view to convert the site into a licensed restaurant and accomodation. The site is only 6.4 metres wide but is 46 metres in length from O’Rahilly Street to James Connolly Street which run parallel with each other.
As well as the new restaurant, there are also plans to convert the two existing residential units into self-contained guest accomodation, comprising of four en-suite bedrooms, one one-bedroom apartment and one one-bedroom duplex apartment with access from James Connolly Street.
Mr Keogh said the design will combine the ‘new and the old in ways that create an architecture which is richer and more dynamic than either on its own’.
“Bringing the popular landmark premises back into active use - as well as incorporating new upper floor residential accomodation - the proposed development will constitute a significant improvement to both the local streetscape of O’Rahilly Street and James Connolly Street, as well as the vitality and vibrancy of Ballina town centre generally,” he submitted in the planning application.