Picture of The Mall, Castlebar, with Aras an Chontae on the right and Imperial Hotel on the left. PHOTO: JACK WALSH DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY

Call to sell Mayo council HQ and move offices into Imperial Hotel

It's going to cost €1 million to put energy efficient windows into Aras an Chontae

by Caoimhin Rowland

A Mayo elected representative has raised a compelling proposal to simultaneously address the refurbishment needs of Aras an Chontae, the HQ of Mayo County Council, and the desire for a centrally located hotel in Castlebar.

Fine Gael Councillor Donna Sheridan questioned the budget allocated for the refurbishment of Aras an Chontae, which included a €1 million investment of to improve the building's energy efficiency, with an additional €100,000 earmarked for the council’s chamber.

Rather than proceeding with the costly retrofit, Councillor Sheridan suggested a unique solution, moving the Aras an Chontae offices into a renovated Imperial Hotel and selling off the council HQ as a hotel.

She pointed out that this approach could serve a dual purpose, enhancing the energy efficiency of the administrative quarters while breathing new life into the Imperial Hotel and the town’s historic core.

Sheridan mentioned the potential benefits of relocating the administrative quarters to the Imperial Hotel, citing the historic charm of such buildings in other municipal districts across Europe.

She proposed transforming Aras an Chontae into a hotel, citing the ample parking spaces available and the need for tourist accommodation in the county town.

Support for this novel idea emerged from various quarters, with Councillor Sean Carey of Fianna Fail endorsing the potential of the Imperial Hotel and calling for the establishment of a design team to progress the proposal.

Fine Gael Councillor Peter Flynn expressed support for reconsidering the entire Mall area and commended Sheridan's forward-thinking approach.

The proposal was made during an environmental SPC with local councillors and stakeholders in attendance sparked positive interest among councillors, prompting discussions about the economic and cultural impact of such a transformation.

Councillor Peter Flynn suggested involving the corporate policy group, considering, “Mayo County Council and the State own two-thirds around the Mall.”

Whether councillor Sheridan’s proposal gains traction remains to be seen.

But further deliberations are expected in forums that go beyond environmental concerns, potentially reshaping the landscape of the town's historic quarters.