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Property developer Johnny Ronan Laura Hutton/
Carlisle Grounds

Bray Wanderers invokes the 'great' Johnny Ronan in an effort to build hundreds of apartments

The club wants to redevelop its historic home stadium, the Carlisle Grounds.

THE CHAIRMAN OF Bray Wanderers invoked Katie Taylor and Johnny Ronan in an effort to persuade the local council to allow it to build hundreds of apartments on the site of its historic stadium.

In a letter to then Wicklow County Council chief executive Bryan Doyle, Bray Wanderers chairman Gerry Mulvey laid out a plan to build up to 400 apartments on the soccer club’s home ground.

He said that this could help produce a “Katie Taylor equivalent in soccer, who will make County Wicklow and Ireland proud”.

As previously explained by Fora, Bray Wanderers has been trying to get Wicklow County Council to agree to a plan to redevelop Bray’s stadium, the Carlisle Grounds.

It says that it wants to use the proceeds of the development to fund the construction of a new stadium and a ‘centre of excellence’. To do this it must receive permission from the council, which owns the Carlisle Grounds.

Frustrated by a perceived lack of engagement on the issue from the council, in July the club released a provocative – and in places bizarre – statement which gained international media attention.

A few days after the statement was released, Mulvey wrote to Doyle acknowledging the statement in which it compared Wicklow to North Korea due to the supposed difficulty of doing business.

He stuck by this statement in the letter, saying: “We believe that to fully be the case. The sheer lack of respect shown to anyone who wants to create economic activity in Wicklow is disgraceful.

“One needs to look no further than one of the greatest-ever property developers of our generation in Ireland, namely John Ronan, when he described the planning process in Wicklow as ‘very frustrating, very costly and time consuming’.”

90198626_90198626 Property developer Johnny Ronan Laura Hutton / Laura Hutton / /

One of Ronan’s companies issued that statement after being refused planning permission for a 141-bed hotel in Enniskerry.


Mulvey said that the club is going to “build a new facility to the west of the N11 and are currently working towards buying this land” in July.

“Our facility will be the centre of excellence. We want Bray Wanderers to be the club to which the most talented footballers from around the country aspire to play with in the League of Ireland with the hope that we can transition to play in the top European leagues,” he said.

He added: “In order to fund this we would like Wicklow County Council to rezone the Carlisle Grounds in the current development plan. We would envisage the Carlisle Grounds having 350-400 apartments.

“What we propose is building these apartments with a certain percentage of them sold. (They) would cover the building costs of the new facility. The remaining unsold units would be kept with the rental income paid into a new trust which we are going to form.”

A general view of the game The Carlisle Grounds Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Mulvey said that the rental income would cover the running costs of the facility, as well as “transport for busloads of children from around the country to get to the facility where we will hopefully be able to create some really good footballers.

“We may just get another Katie Taylor equivalent in soccer, who will make County Wicklow and Ireland proud,” he said.

In a letter responding to Mulvey, a Wicklow council official said that until that point the club had no dealings with any council executive and had not made any development proposals in writing.

Regarding the plan to build apartments on the Carlisle Grounds, the official said: “Disposal of assets is a reserved function of the elected members, but it seems that they would be willing to transfer public assets to a private trust.

“You might like to expand on your proposals and also to clarify what control over these transferred assets would remain in public hands.”

Milway Dawn

In 2015 Mulvey paired with Denis O’Connor to take over Bray Wanderers through a shared company, Millway Dawn. Mulvey was previously a shareholder in businesses owned by prominent property developer Greg Kavanagh.

Any attempt at redeveloping the Carlisle Grounds, the FAI League ground with the longest history as a sports venue, would likely prove controversial and some people close to the club have accused the owners of a property play.

O’Connor previously told Fora that the club was not planning to redevelop the grounds.

Despite this the club later said that it did want to build residential units on the site, saying that this would help fund its vision to develop Bray Wanderers as one of Ireland’s best soccer clubs.

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Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on

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