Mosney Holiday Centre – An Abandoned Fairground In Ireland

Mosney Holiday Centre first opened in 1948 as a Butlin’s Holiday Centre, the first outside the UK, and operated as such until 1982 when the camp was sold, taking on the name Mosney from the 1983 season onwards. Located north of Dublin in County Meath, Mosney was popular with Irish holiday makers. People from all over Ireland spent time there and it became a Summer institution for many. School trips to Mosney were popular, especially with schools in Dublin and surrounding counties of Meath and Louth. Families could rent out chalets or camp within the grounds of the holiday centre. There was a ballroom where entertainers called Redcoats put on shows and competitions. There was an indoor water park called Funtropica with all manor of slides, a playground, video arcades, shops, Don Lowry’s bar and Shakers nightclub.

The Mosney logo after the change from Butlin's
The Mosney logo after the change from Butlin’s

Mosney also spent a considerable amount of time as the venue of the Community Games in which children from all over Ireland competed in various events. The games remained at Mosney after it was closed as a holiday camp but in 2009, they moved to Athlone.

As the years went on and package holidays became more accessible, Mosney could no longer compete. In the mid-nineties, visitor numbers dropped and finding staff for the short 12 week season proved difficult. The decision was made to close in 2000. The Irish government leased Mosney to became an accommodation centre for asylum seekers and the well loved fairground was left abandoned as a result. Some of the other amenities were left in place for the residents of the new Mosney Accommodation Centre including the swimming pool and restaurant. The centre is now under the control of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

When Billy Butlin decided to open a holiday camp in Ireland, the reaction was not as he would have hoped. Many feared that holiday camps were quite a British institution and it would have a negative effect on Catholic Ireland. Butlin’s camps had been massively popular in the UK since the end of World War 2 and so the thought of expansion appealed to Billy Butlin. Each of his camps had similar specifications which included a boating lake, chalets, dining hall, amusement arcade, theatre and swimming pool. Mosney was smaller than the UK sites with a capacity of 2800 campers and 4000 day visitors. The aim was to provide affordable holidays to ordinary working class people.

Funtropica water park in Mosney
This is the Funtropica water park in Mosney. Note the windows. On one side they looked out onto the street and on the other, to Don Lowry’s bar

The camp was opened in 1948 and while it proved popular among the population, the Catholic Church was staunchly against Butlin’s expanding into Ireland. While many went against the church’s requests to stay clear of the holiday camp, Billy Butlin felt a compromise could be reached and had a Catholic Church constructed at the camp. This seemed to pacify the hierarchy and the camp’s popularity increased.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrOGAg8AcBU/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Butlin’s sold Mosney in 1983 and it became known as Mosney Holiday Centre. Little changed from its time as Butlin’s although it did develop a slightly more Irish feel. It remained popular through the late eighties and early nineties however Ireland’s economic growth boomed during the Celtic Tiger years and with holidays to places like Spain and Portugal now a lot easier to come by, the popularity of Mosney waned. In December 2000, the owner signed a five year, £15 million deal, allowing the Irish government to use the former Holiday camp as a detention centre and it has operated as such ever since. The fairground which stood on site was never reopened and although some rides were moved, a lot remained standing and exposed to the elements. The remaining attractions in the abandoned fairground were eventually removed in 2014.

There have been many rumours that the holiday centre will reopen however this has not been confirmed. UK operators such as Merlin Entertainments and Haven have been linked to the site, as well as a possible return of the Butlin’s brand, however none have proved to be true just yet.

Location: Mosney, Ireland

Abandoned: 2000

Ride from the amusement park at Mosney now abandoned
This is the remaining part of the satellite ride. You can see the cars in have been removed. There’s a picture of them in the Instagram post above.
The former amusement park now sits empty
These sheds housed some of the smaller rides including the waltzers. Given the Irish weather, they were often welcomed to get away from rain showers!
The site of The Space Round Up at Mosney
As you can from the picture above, remains of out buildings which were not used even when the fairground was operational remain standing around the site.
Abandoned building at Mosney Holiday Camp
A view looking back towards the sheds. The big red slide and Tempest would have been on the right and Space Round Up on the left.
An abandoned bench at Mosney Holiday Camp
One of the benches in the fairground where parents could rest as their children enjoyed the rides.
The waltzers at the abandoned amusement park in Mosney
The waltzer was left in place after the fairground was abandoned as it was under the shed shown above. In the background, you can see the top of one of the trains. The train ride was located on the other side of the fairground so was most likely moved under the shed out of the elements.
The Space Round Up is missing its yellow disk
The Space Round Up centrifuge ride was hugely popular. The big yellow wheel has been removed from the base of the ride.


25 thoughts on “Mosney Holiday Centre – An Abandoned Fairground In Ireland

  • August 31, 2012 at 2:20 am
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    Great read. It's an awful shame that it ever closed down. There's been passing rumours that it could reopen – but let's not hold our breath.

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  • August 31, 2012 at 2:32 am
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    I've also heard similar rumblings. Apparantly the government no longer need it as an asylum centre and the lease will not be renewed. I heard interest from the Birds who run Funderland about being involved

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  • August 31, 2012 at 11:05 am
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    They should consider it. It'd be great for tourism!

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  • January 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm
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    Borne leisure broght mosney camp so hopefully a butlinsvcould come

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  • January 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm
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    if they did reopen it would boost the tourism market dedo we would Get visitors witch would mean people spending Money in ireland só ireland be making money for a change

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  • January 15, 2013 at 11:26 am
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    It will do the Irish economy good and it will get more people
    into work so lets hope it is true about mosney reopens once again

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  • April 6, 2013 at 2:12 am
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    I think a lot of people would like to visit again, especially those of us with fond memories of summers there

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  • January 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm
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    Minimum wage in Ireland makes Mosney unviable. Live in rate in the mid 90s was about 60p an hour

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  • March 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm
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    I was a redcoat there in the mid 90's and made about 15 pounds a day which was usually spent before I ever got it,ahh good times

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  • May 1, 2014 at 2:52 am
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    And not a mention, not one in the article of how it was used for the Community Games!? Not sure how many years it was used for same but it defo was back in the 90s.

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  • May 2, 2014 at 4:01 pm
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    Sorry! Should have mentioned that! Must relook at Mosney again. If you have any info send it on!

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  • February 7, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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    I went to Butlins for years as a child and brought my two sons when they were young for the day, but drove down yesterday so see what it was like brought back a lot of really lovely memories but couldn't gain access to the site itself, world love to see it reopen.

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  • July 13, 2016 at 4:59 pm
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    As a youngester my folks would take us there for the week over the 12th of July as we were from the north it kept us away from all the troubles that use to go on and to make it even better all my aunties and uncles book in with there kids. I have so many great memories of this place. Loved it so much running around all day with family and what ever friends u got to met down there. Such a waist would have loved to have took my own kids

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  • July 24, 2016 at 4:43 pm
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    Passed by it yesterday before I saw the photos attached I shuddered the thought of what it looked likes now (torn beaten and broke��) Its a huge shame its gone it was the best place in the world when we where kids in the 80's and 90's. I wish someone could see its potential refurb and revamp the place and open it back up. Me and the hubby were reminiscing last night and I'd love to have taken our kids to.

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    • June 12, 2017 at 12:47 am
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      Wonder if small lake with island and swans still there

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  • August 9, 2016 at 7:59 pm
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    Drove out there today. Still housing asylum seekers. Was denied access to take photos unfortunately. Loved the place. Community games continued until 2009 and it houses a car show each summer

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  • September 12, 2016 at 2:21 pm
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    many many happy memories 80s 90s our children had the same great times what we would give to see paddy cole young hoppers , or my fav group in whole wide world dermuid oleary and the bards. if anyone knows if they still do gigs please let us know. think we should start petition to get it opened again with all the trouble in the world, mosney was the safest place we ever went to. 2000 people in dan lowrys never seen the slightest bit of trouble . big thankyou co meath for making our life so much better

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  • January 7, 2017 at 1:59 pm
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    Watched the videos with great interest. So sad. I went to Butlins back in the early 1960s! It was the hugely exciting highlight of the year. What simple lives we lived then.
    Don’t understand where the asylum seekers live however cause all the chalets are completely derelict. The only beautiful aspect now is Mother Nature gradually taking over.

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  • September 13, 2018 at 1:32 am
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    I use to live in Donaghadee and my older sister and I went to Butlins Holiday Camp in August 1963 for a week, before I joined the British Air Force in September 1963. It was sad to see the pictures that someone had attached, such happy memories. I’m almost 73 and my older sister died a couple of years ago so never got to bring back memories with her. We had a wonderful time. Thanks to all who have previously written on here – so sad it can’t be opened again.

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  • November 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm
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    Would be interested to see if this is still running as an asylum centre. Heard recently Haven were planning a holiday camp in Ireland for 2019, this would have been a good place to start for them but haven’t heard where. Was at the camp back in early 80’s and had a great time

    Reply

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