The Mill apartments, Ballisodare

Yesterday I took a walk around The Mill apartment complex in Ballisodare. The project of 75 apartments was built on the site of a beautiful old mill on the Owenmore river about 5 miles from Sligo town. Finished in 2006, it was billed as “a property that simply has it all”, with 2 bedroom apartments starting from €320,000.

Things didn’t quite work out that way and it looks like hardly anyone ever moved in. I heard stories of dampness issues with the building that delayed sales of the apartments. I guess when 2008 came around it was doomed. There are no warning signs telling you not to enter, I did not have to jump any gates or wall to get in. I simply walked from the main road down and in the front door.

It is like a scene from ’28 days later’ inside. Windows are smashed, partition walls are kicked in, the large dark empty car park has had all of its wiring and cables stripped. There are screws all over the floor from all of the doors and fittings that have been removed. Copper water tanks have been long ripped out of each apartment.

Its a shame that this place was built in place of the old mill which stood for over a century, but its a tragedy that it was not maintained and used to house someone. It must have cost between €5m and €10m to build and now its worth nothing. Water and electricity are cut off and the only sounds are the dying batteries in the smoke alarms.

Remember that this development was pretty much finished and ready for tenants in 2006.

I found the text for the original brochure on the way back machine so I will use it to contrast how it all looks now…

"Look out your window and bathe in the breathtaking beauty of the Ballisodare River. With its abundant supply of wild salmon and bubbling rapids it's a magnet for anglers ... relax over dinner and let your thoughts drift with the current of the river." - from the brochure

" All of these apartments have generous living areas and cleverly laid out kitchens ... Whatever shape or style of apartment you'd like, you'll find it at the Mill." - from the brochure

"They say God is in the detail and here attention to detail is second to the Mill quality is everywhere you look. And that quality is protected by a 10-year home bond guarantee." - from the brochure

"all the living areas face out into the lovingly landscaped courtyard. Here children can play safely and always within view or you could just put your feet up in the sun and enjoy a good book." - from the brochure

"Walk inside any of the apartments at the Mill and you'll start to notice things. There are ash veneered doors, a fully fitted kitchen with granite worktop and first class tiling throughout the kitchens and bathrooms. Bathrooms have semi recessed sinks and all bedrooms come with built in wardrobes." - from the brochure

"All apartments at The Mill come with the latest in high tech spec. Intercom systems come as standard. What's more, broadband internet and cabling for state of the art entertainment systems has been fitted throughout. " - from the brochure

" If home is what you make it, then you couldn't make it better than this. Whether you're buying your first home, planning to invest, looking for a holiday home or simply looking for a taste of the good life, at the Mill you'll be rewarded with a property that simply has it all." - from the brochure

"Often the problem with apartment living can be storage space. Having space for stuff shouldn't be a luxury and at the Mill it isn't." - from the brochure

"Every inch of the Mill has been architecturally designed to maximise, light, space and style ... The Mill's brave design sets a new standard in apartment living." - from the brochure

"And with the warm glow of Goldshield electric heating always on, these apartments are energy efficient too!" - from the brochure

I feel bad for the people that live near here. It must be depressing to look at this everyday.

Next Post: The Front


  1. Why can councils & banks not use there heads and make use of these assets to get some sort of return , we pay millions in social welfare rent allowance why not get some of these type ghost estates finished and lived in so taxpayers money is not wasted any longer

  2. I have lived in Ballisodare all my life and i like a lot more have to look at this eyesore every day. The mill apartments were a bad idea from the start, i agree they should have left the mill and devlop it for use by the fisheries it would have been a great asset to them and tied in with the beautiful river and salmon fisheries! My grandfather and several of my gran uncles all worked in the Mill when it was open and it provided a lot of income for the village. There used to be a closed over pass across the road too which connected to the railway station (another building let go to waste!) to bring the flour and grain to the train. You can see other Mills around the country devloped as vistors centres, but unfortunatley not in Ballisodare! As for the old lady that lived next door with her beautiful rose garden, she has since passed away god rest her. We have a very hard working team of people who try to keep our village looking good with flowers in the summer and lights at Christmas time, but this building and a derilect hotel in the village let them down when applying for the Tidy Towns. Thanks for bringing this to everyones attention, it may in time bring some conlcusion to it and get it knocked down and remove the danger of it in our pretty village!

  3. Dave, great article and great pics….looks like a sample of what’s going on all over the country. Keep up the good work!

  4. Sud never have been built. Another silly property development built in a time when developers and banks lost all sence of reason…..

  5. Great blog, can’t believe the photos. Often wondered just how bad it was on the inside. Worse than I thought. What a truly terrible waste…not only of payers money both of a wonderful feature, which held great potential in terms of been developed into a tourist attraction, given the link with WB Yeats. Maybe its time the Community came together to try and do something about it, the longer it’s left to deteriorate the more of an eyesore it becomes… I think if we wait for the banks etc we could be waiting a long time.

  6. This should be published in the national press.
    If people weren’t scared by last week’s Morgan Kelly article in the IT, this will certainly frighten them.

  7. That’s just so sad. The view to river is gorgeous! Could have been such a nice place to live. Always with the overspending of stuff that isn’t required… very sad!!
    I’d say the Old Mill was lovely before it was “done up”. Wish I’d seen it before…

    Great article!!!

  8. I grew up in Ballisodare in the 1970s and 1980’s One of the pastimes of de youth was to play in the derelict mill buildings ( also on the far bank of the river). There were thousands of windows and thousands of rats!

    All thats changed though; the nice developer men came along and with their magic millions and turned a derelict building into hey presto ,, a derelict building !
    With better windows.
    You should also check out the Avena apartments in Ballisodare, yet another monument to stupidity.

  9. Ireland was allways the trailer trash of Europe and this is an example of their sad existence. You can’t blame the Poles and travellers. They left years ago.

  10. Sligo County Council need to do something about this eyesore pronto. I drove through the village a fortnight ago and couldn’t believe my eyes (I used to live there about 10 years ago). Its the worst case of ‘ghost estate’ I’ve seen in anywhere in the country. Because the development is so large, and at the centre of the village it has a huge negative impact on it. The fact that the story made it into a national newspaper gives an indication of just how monstrous it is. The longer its left there the worse it’ll get. Its a disgrace that this was allowed to be inflicted on the people in Ballisodare.

    Well done for highlighting it.

  11. A very harrowing Story indeed….another prime example of goverment and private sector recklessness which has destroyed our country
    I grew up near Ballisodare and i remember when Odlums closed this Mill in 1989
    Instead of preserving the mill maybe dividing it into maybe half heritage museum half fisheries accomodation,all the old brass fixings and machinery was sold as scrap metal and the building lay abanndoned for 15years until it was turned into this and now the Irish taxpayer will be left with this tab for generations to comw

  12. I agree with the commenter above who suggested that you should do the same for as many of these developments as you can (time + money permitting of course). It might wake people up to the latent problem of ignoring dilapidated housing + generate a push to demolis

  13. i left Ireland in 2002 and have not returned. the vandalism and theft is allowed with fear of action by the Gardai?

  14. an excellent example of the repulsive greed of Celtic Tiger-era property developers and banks, and of their devastating impact throughout Ireland. Good fucking riddance to them all.

  15. this building is condemned and will have to be destroyed. it was condemned before recession had set in. cracks appeared, roof leaking, damp rising. developer then went bust, its an insurance issue now, but not a ‘typical ghost estate’ because it is a condemned building and can never be used.

  16. This would make a great gallery exhibition. Maybe you could get some arts council funding to sponsor you to travel around the country photographing various other locations too.

    Great work, thank you.

  17. such a well constructed article. sums up so much…. dark humor or a total embarrassament… society gets what society wants!!!

  18. What a disgusting waste of a beautiful old mill. Unfortunatly I am sure it is just one of many such developments that are totally unused and slowly deteriorating.

  19. This is an incredible piece of work. Drenched in pathos. I think you should exhibit these images (with the captions) somewhere. Maybe a gallery, or an appropriate public space.

  20. What a shocking waste. And it was a travesty that the old Mills were destroyed to build this development. I wrote several pieces about Ballysadare for the magazine ‘Discover Sligo’ and the Mills were an important part of the history of the place, of Sligo as a whole. What are these apartments going to contribute to Ballysadare’s history, except a depressing and all too true comment on Ireland’s recent decline. If the original buildings had been restored and turned into something – offices, apartments, studios – at least we would still have their legacy.

  21. I remember being at a funeral across the road when this apartment block was being built and the person was being buried and you couldnt hear a word of what the preist was saying because of the noise coming from the machines across the road and in the end was their rush to keep working really worth this???

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