Limerick city museum to move to Franciscans

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

The former Franciscan Church, pictured before it closed. The inside of the  church on Henry Street will become an exhibition space in the future, according to the Council
THE FRANCISCAN Friary on Henry Street will soon become home to the Jim Kemmy municipal museum, which has been without a permanent home for several years.

THE FRANCISCAN Friary on Henry Street will soon become home to the Jim Kemmy municipal museum, which has been without a permanent home for several years.

The museum, which was named after Jim Kemmy in 2000, was moved from its home on Nicholas Street to make way for the €6m redevelopment of the visitor experience at King John’s Castle. Since then part of its collection have been on display in Istabraq Hall in Merchants Quay.

This Monday, at a metropolitan meeting at City Hall, a part 8 procedure was adopted by the council to change the use of the friary - a protected structure which sits to the left of the former church - to a museum. The church site is due to become an exhibition space at a later date.

Council officials said they want to “re-imagine and re-invent the building” and their plans have been drawn up in consultation with heritage and conservation officers.

The museum’s long awaited move - its fifth in 100 years - has been mooted for Henry Street since January of last year.

Any changes to the friary will be done “sensitively”, they assured, and the plans will progress “as soon as possible”.

However, not all councillors wholeheartedly welcomed the plans. Independent councillor John Gilligan said he had “mixed emotions”, as he has long been campaigning for the whole of Nicholas Street to be rejuvenated. “Nicholas Street is simply not attracting the attention that it should be. It’s a dead street, closing at 5pm,” he told the council.

Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan also seconded his views, adding that Nicholas Street has been “neglected for years”.

Pat Dowling, of the council, said the museum’s absence from its former stronghold “doesn’t preclude other developments taking place on Nicholas Street.” He said the Franciscan Friary is a “significant building on a main street, which requires an upkeep”. The council aims to go out to tender for the works “straight away”, with a view to beginning the works in December, and opening next March.

The museum’s 55,000 item collection - much of which has been in storage for several years - includes parts of a meteorite which fell in Adare over 100 years ago, axes which date back to the Neolithic period, and items from 4000BC up to the present day.