Louth is Ireland’s smallest county but despite its size, it has its fair share of beautiful scenery. Carlingford Lough, for example, it a glacial fjord forming part of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In fact, the immediate hinterland to Carlingford Lough is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Situated beside Carlingford Lough is the derelict Táin Holiday Village.
Táin Holiday Village was built by Robert Walker Greer, a local landowner who also commissioned The Quay to help develop Carlingford Lough’s fishing industry. It was originally called Ballyoonan House and operated as a grand mansion replete with 14 acres of land. In 1901, the Institute of Charity took over Ballyoonan House for it to serve as a Novitiate, which trains and prepares Christian novices before taking their vows.
It was given the name of St. Michael’s and in 1935, it became a Scholasticate, which is a college-level school of study for those preparing for membership in a Roman Catholic religious order.1 Then in 1945, it became a Juniorate, which is preparatory training for those preparing to join the priesthood. During it’s time as a Juniorate, there were only 28 students and nine years later, St. Michael’s applied to be recognised as a secondary school, taking in students who did not necessarily want to become members of the Institute of Charity.2 In 1972, the first “day girl” attended St. Michael’s and as the years progressed, more girls would attend but then in 1986, the school closed for good. The Institute of Charity foreseen the difficulties of maintaining and increasing their school population and said goodbye to the students for good.
It was in 1994 that Táin Holiday Village came to fruition. It was a thriving holiday village for guests who flocked from all across Ireland, both north and south of the border. It boasted of many amenities as well as a range of outdoor activities including banana boating, rock climbing, canoeing, abseiling climbing as well as outdoor development programs which included team building, problem solving, creativity and mental and physical challenges.3
The holiday village was comprised of a main building which housed the guests, restaurant, a bar, supermarket, washing facilities, a swimming pool with slides, and a play park area. There was also a games room and laser quest as well as an outdoor basketball court. In addition, guests could explore the world of technology at the Science Interactive Centre and there was also a chapel on the grounds.4 From Táin Holiday Village, guests had uncompromised views across Carlingford Lough. It was surrounded by natural beauty on a 10-acre site and it was easy to see why it was once a booming holiday village.
In 2004, they applied to have planning approval for 48 holiday apartments and it was approved by the Louth County Council. However, the board then overturned the decision. Three years later, they applied to have planning approval for 100 holiday homes within the grounds but the board refused permission for the development; many locals within the area objected to the plan.5
In 2007, however, Táin Holiday Village closed its doors to holiday-makers and since then, dilapidation and mother nature have taken over as well as vandalism and theft. In 2013 and 2014, Táin Holiday Village briefly opened for once-a-month airsoft events but this sadly had to be cancelled due to vandalism and theft.6
Then in 2014, arsonists set fire to the main building on the complex, causing significant damage. Just the following year, the building was set alight once more, destroying much of the top storey. Other structures on the property were destroyed by fire. Due to number of arson attacks, the majority of the buildings were essentially gutted and very little original features remained.
There were reports towards the end of 2019 that ML Quinn Construction Ltd were going to be giving Táin Holiday Village a new lease of life. They were granted permission to demolish four structures on the grounds and the partial demolition of another and in its place, they were going to be building a three-storey nursing home. In addition to the nursing home, 3.1 hectares of the site was going to be used as tourism accommodation including 51 cabins and eight pods.7
In October 2021, a new application was submitted to increase the number of bedrooms allowed in the nursing home from 65 to 108. Louth County Council approved this application on the 14th April 2022.
In January 2023, Táin Holiday Village was demolished.
Táin Holiday Village when operational:
- Child Abuse Commission – Institute of Charity
- The Ryan Report – Chapter 1 – Institute of Charity”
- The Sunday Mirror, 6 August, 1996 – “Save Pounds at 2 Great Fun-Filled Summer Attractions”
- The Argus, 8 March, 2007 – “Bord Pleanala Reject Plans for Tain Village Holiday Homes”
- Talk of the Town, 15 July, 2019 – “Plans to Renovate Former Táin Holiday Village as a Nursing Home and Tourist Destination”
- Armaghi, 7 December, 2019 – “Tain Holiday Village to be Given New Lease of Life 12 Years After Closure”