THERE are high hopes that Limerick’s Patrick Punch’s Hotel could be on the brink of opening again, after it emerged that students have been staying in the landmark city-centre property.
The University of Limerick) has confirmed that around 50 of its third and fourth-year medical students have been using the hotel while taking their exams.
They returned to Limerick having been on placement at hospitals across Ireland.
Patrick Punch’s Hotel went into liquidation in 2013 and closed with the loss of 50 full- and part-time jobs.
But it was purchased by local hotelier Paddy Hoare, who owns the Kilmurry Lodge Hotel in Castletroy, last December for €1m.
At this time, it was stated the new owner hoped to have it back in business as soon as possible.
A spokesperson for the university confirmed: “Third and fourth-year medical school students spend the year on placement. When they come back to do exams, we facilitate accommodation for them.”
One of the reasons for picking Punch’s, they said, was because of its direct bus connection to the university in Castletroy.
“There is good connectivity between that part of town and UL, so this would have been one of the elements which we went with. Obviously it is short stay, just for the course of their exams and they are then gone again,” the spokesperson said.
Local Fine Gael councillor Maria Byrne is confident the hotel will re-open to the public.
“Obviously someone intends doing something, and it is very much to be welcomed. It is great to see the site coming back into use. It will bring footfall back into the area, and obviously it will have a knock-on effect to neighbouring businesses.
“If they are staying in the area, they are going to spend money in the area. It has been such an eyesore for so long sitting there in the corner and looking derelict,” Cllr Byrne said.
Mr Hoare could not be reached for comment.