Mosney Holiday Centre was a holiday camp in Mosney, Ireland. It 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. It took on the name Mosney from the 1983 season onwards after the townland in which it was situated.
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 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 manner of slides, a playground, video arcades, shops, Don Lowry’s bar and Shakers nightclub.
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 II 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 2,800 campers and 4,000 day visitors. The aim was to provide affordable holidays to ordinary working class people.
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.
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.