In 2016, Ireland’s Office of Public Works submitted a planning application for a Science Museum to include use of Dublin’s historic Real Tennis Court for temporary exhibitions. As a result of the IRTA's engagement with the planning process, and that of the international real tennis community, built heritage conservation organisations, and others, a condition was attached to the resulting permission which provided that “The developer shall submit a detailed proposal to the planning authority for the temporary reinstatement of the penthouse galleries and any other essential features required for playing Real Tennis matches.” For various reasons, work did not start on the project, and permission lapsed in late 2021.

In September 2022, the Office of Public Works submitted a fresh application for essentially the same project; in the new application it claims to have addressed the above condition. The application explicitly states that “The Real Tennis Court building will be refurbished including the restoration of the tennis court (to a playable condition), and to facilitate space for temporary displays and exhibitions”. The IRTA has a number of concerns as to the details of how the plans have interpreted “playable condition”, but on the whole this proposal gives us hope that Dublin’s real tennis court will become playable once more. The issue of access to the court is separate.

The IRTA made an observation on this application, emphasising the various structural requirements for the court to be truly restored to “playable condition”.


In a decision dated 23 Nov 2022, Dublin City Council granted permission subject to a number of conditions, including in relation to the Real Tennis Court. Its decision notice is available here.

The IRTA engaged Cunnane Stratton Reynolds to submit an appeal relating to this decision. A decision from An Bord Pleanála was expected by 28th April 2023. However, on that date, we received a notice from An Bord Pleanála informing us that, “due to a backlog of cases”, the Board was not able to determine the case by that date. It now states that it will endeavour to determine the case by 20th July 2023.

Information regarding the application