The first Butlin's camp to be built outside of mainland Britain, the Mosney site was opened in 1948. Occupying some 200 acres of a former country estate, the camp was located on the east coast of Ireland, about 25 miles north of Dublin and adjacent to the main railway line to Belfast. Although occupying a large site, the area covered by the buildings was relatively small when compared to it's British counterparts. Upon opening, The Catholic Standard newspaper stated that: "Holiday camps are an English idea and are alien and undesirable in an Irish Catholic country . . . outside influences are bad and dangerous." Billy Butlin built a Catholic Church to placate the hierarchy.
The camp also differed slightly in that it was aimed more at young couples as opposed to families and teenagers. For this reason there were fewer amusements. It was also said to be more "up market" and was often referred to as a "village" as opposed to a camp.
At it's peak the site could accommodate some 2800 campers and 4000 day visitors. It became a major destination for generations of Irish families, especially those from Dublin. It is said that 8 out of 10 Irish families have had some kind of contact with the camp over the years.
The camp was put up for sale in 1980. The site was still profitable but Butlin's were looking to trim down their empire and wished to focus on a smaller number of sites. The camp was eventually sold in 1982 and became known as Mosney Holiday Centre. Life continued pretty much the same.
Every year more than 6,000 children from around the country traveled to Mosney to take part in the Community Games. This hugely popular event had been held here for 25 years - Mosney was the only location in Ireland which had the required 2,500 beds. And each June the Lions Club took over the centre and provided much needed holidays for 1200 local people.
Dwindling visitor numbers and problems finding staff for the short 12-week season eventually led to the camps downfall. In December 2000 a controversial 5-year £15 million deal was signed with the government to turn the camp into a home for asylum seekers. The site owner said that he had opted for the deal in loyalty to the 170 staff who worked there. A local auctioneer estimated that the land could be worth between £30 and £40 million. The mayor of nearby Drogheda was reported to be "incensed" and the local council feared it would become a "ghetto".
The site is now home to several hundred asylum seekers from over 20 different countries. Most of the old attractions have been mothballed, but recreation facilities still include an indoor football arena, table tennis and a supervised play area. One of the current residents described it as "a luxury prison".
The long term future for Mosney is undecided. However, as the last Butlins camp with so many of it's original features still intact it does create considerable interest. To discuss Mosney then why not join our forum and reply to this thread. To see Mosney videos then why not visit the Mosney Memories YouTube Channel.
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