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Castle Stables and Courtyard

Rathfarnham Castle Stables and Courtyard

Rathfarnham Castle is a popular visitor attraction in South Dublin. Four historic stable courtyards adjoin the Castle in a beautiful parkland setting; the south and central courtyards contain recently conserved protected structures whilst north courtyards 1 and 2 are brownfield sites previously used as a Council facility but are now vacant.

South Dublin County Council intends to develop two of these courtyards as a retail/hospitality and leisure offering and to this end plans to fund, design, and construct a building of architectural merit in north courtyards 1 and 2 to an area up to circa 1,400 sq. metres, complete with outdoor courtyard areas within an overall area of circa 2,700 sq. metres. Accessible public transport and active-travel options including the nearby Dodder Greenway will be complemented by an extension to the current car parking provision. The Council have committed to making a significant investment in the provision of a new facility at this location that will deliver a high-quality experience which will serve to complement Rathfarnham Castle and Demesne as a key tourism and local amenity.


We believe that, combined, these four plots can provide an opportunity to develop a mixed-use hospitality/retail/food and/or lifestyle offering extending to circa 2,700 sq. metres. There is flexibility within the envelope of north courtyards 1 and 2 to facilitate a range of different uses, including food, retail, garden centre, or other lifestyle offerings. These could be accommodated through the design of the new facility that provides scope for different approaches and models of service delivery to suit different business needs accommodating for example a number of food offerings (bakery/coffee/produce/pasta/pizza family area and wine-bar restaurant) ranging in size, with the possibility of external seating in sheltered courtyards directly accessing the adjacent parkland and/or lifestyle items sold at this location could include horticultural products, garden furniture, homewares, clothing and giftware for example. It should be noted however that the brief excludes certain offerings such as mainstream convenience retailing, hot food takeaways, and public houses for example.



Therefore, the Council sought to partner with a dynamic business currently operating within the aforementioned sectors, who sees the unique opportunity to develop the offering at this location in the heart of Rathfarnham, to help shape the Council’s vision and bring this concept to reality.

The council did this through a three stage process:

  1. Selection Criteria Questionnaire (Expression Of Interest)
  2. Invitation to Participate Dialogue (s)
  3. Invite to submit a final tender

Details on the process was released on etenders. Interested parties also had the option of registering their interest to be notified when applications opened by emailing their details through this website.


UPDATE: 01/09/23

After an extensive three stage tender process, South Dublin County Council have selected the McHugh Group as partner for an exciting project that will provide a top-class retail/hospitality offering at Castle Stables and Courtyard at Rathfarnham.

The project aims to deliver an architecturally designed bespoke retail/hospitality unit adjacent to Rathfarnham Castle. The McHugh Group will work with the Council and the appointed design teams to develop the facility from design phase to delivery of daily operations.


Décor in McHughs’ Restaurant Raheny

The proposed vision will be inspired by three key pillars, Retail, Hospitality and Community.

The hospitality offering will consist of a premium daytime café, and evening restaurant. Retail on site will consist of a boutique garden centre, and lifestyle retail offering small scale premium deli and gourmet food. Additional aspects of the project will include a versatile space for community uses such as Yoga, Pilates, Meditation, art classes and local events. All proposed uses will be finalised as part of the design of the building that will be subject to a Part 8 planning process, which will facilitate public consultation as part of the project’s development.


Décor of McHughs’ Perfect Day café in Greendale

McHugh Group has been in business in the retail and hospitality space for over 60 years and currently own and successfully operate 11 individual businesses including restaurants (one each in Portmarnock, and Raheny), cafes, supermarkets and garden centres.


In the meantime, the Council has selected an Archaeologist to carry out onsite monitoring of fieldwork at the location, and have identified a preferred tenderer for an architect led design team to work on subsequent proposals.

It is envisaged that the proposals will enhance the visitor experience at the adjoining South Dublin County Council public park and playgrounds, will support job creation and the economic development of the area whilst leveraging connectivity to other local amenities such as the emerging Dodder Greenway.

Any proposed development of the above location will be subject of a Part 8 planning process including public consultation. It is expected that this will occur within the next few months.

UPDATE: 19 Apr 24

South Dublin County Council announced in April a series of free, public tours of the Castle Stables and Courtyards at Rathfarnham.

The objective of these free tours was to give the public an understanding of the history of the site, and a sense of its potential as a public amenity, and was part of a series of non-statutory public engagement pieces around this project. A public consultation on the master vision for the site will take place during May.

UPDATE 03/05/24

South Dublin County Council is inviting the public to help shape a vision for the Castle Stables and Courtyards at Rathfarnham through an online consultation.

The Castle Stables and Courtyards at Rathfarnham have been earmarked for redevelopment as a new public amenity in the county’s tourism strategy, published earlier this year. The development of the site will be heavily informed by both this tourism strategy and the county’s development plan. 

Speaking ahead of the opening of the public consultation, Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Cllr Alan Edge said: “Drawing on the tourism strategy and county development plan, the Council wants the Castle Stables and Courtyards at Rathfarnham to be sustainable from a climate and economic perspective.  It’s also important that the space is developed in a way that is sensitive to its heritage, and which contributes to the inclusive development of Rathfarnham village.

“This consultation is an opportunity to step back and think about the activities and offerings that the site might accommodate to meet the needs of the community in Rathfarnham, as well as visitors to the area. There is huge potential to create a mixed-use space that is welcoming for everyone, and a space that will be sustainable in the long term.”

Following the consultation, South Dublin County Council will run a series of focus groups to consider the vision for the site in greater detail.  The results of this deliberation will feed into the development of site plans.

The online consultation will run from  – 26 May and can be accessed, as follows:  and in hardcopy from Ballyroan Library, Orchardstown Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.