Mary Immaculate College set for major expansion in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

LIMERICK has received another boost this week with confirmation that Mary Immaculate College is to purchase the Mount Convent Complex in O’Connell Avenue.

LIMERICK has received another boost this week with confirmation that Mary Immaculate College is to purchase the Mount Convent Complex in O’Connell Avenue.

In a move that gives the South Circular Road-based third-level institution a presence on the city’s main thoroughfare, the historic building will house the college’s post-graduate students.

College president, Professor Michael A Hayes confirmed they are in the process of buying the 4,000 square metre building from the Sisters of Mercy, and they hope to move in fully “in the next academic year”.

Four years ago, the order of nuns moved from there to a newly-built complex next door.

Some 17 sisters are based there.

Up until the 1970s, the building – built in 1839 –was an orphanage.

In recent years, Mary Immaculate College have rented office space in the building, while the protected structure has also been used by the Limerick Children’s Grief Project.

Mary Immaculate College said the acquisition will give the opportunity to bring all the postgraduate activities together into one space.

Minor refurbishments will be made to the interior of the building.

“It will also increase office space for the faculty,” the college added.

Prof Hayes said the acquisition is “an indication of our growing confidence as an institution”.

“This is very much consistent with the college’s strategic plan for 2012-2016. One of the pillars of [this] sets out to enhance the college’s learning environment and provide a workplace of the highest quality. Another aims to improve the quality of Mary Immaculate College’s postgraduate student experience,” he explained.

He said the building will house the associate vice-president’s office for research, the head of the graduate school, as well as post-graduate students doing doctoral studies.

Labour councillor Tom Shortt, who has worked at the neighbouring Scoil Carmel for the past 30 years, gave a broad welcome to the project.

“This is the most sensible way of reinventing that building, and preserving it into the future as a living building. It is an important piece of architecture on O’Connell Avenue. Mary Immaculate College will have a more public face on the main thoroughfare, and I think they will do a really good job,” Cllr Shortt said. No jobs are expected to be created from the project.