THE Jesuits have a long history in education in Limerick and while the order may have quit the city centre, councillors want that tradition of learning to continue by acquiring their former church for a new library.
The Church of the Sacred Heart at the Crescent was bought by the late Galway developer John O’Dolan in 2006 for a reported €4 million but is now available at a knockdown price, councillors claimed at a meeting of the cultural committee.
But director of services Pat Dowling reminded members that the Council had previously given the go-ahead to investigate the Potato Market as a potential location for a new city library.
Cllr Kathleen Leddin said the Jesuit Church would be “ideal”. Currently located at an outdated building in The Granary, the library, Cllr Leddin said, had previously been located on Henry Street and Pery Square, at the same end of town as the Jesuit Church.
Cllr Michael Hourigan, meanwhile, urged the Council to make a bid for the property.
“It is on the market again at a fraction of the price it was available for only a few years ago. It would cost hundreds of thousands. We are not talking about millions any more,” he said.
“If not as a library or a museum, we would find some use for it,” Cllr Hourigan said in proposing City Hall acquire the property, seconded by Cllr Kevin Kiely.
Mr Dowling previously told the Council that he had visited the church but this was not to be interpreted as meaning a bid was in the offing.
“It is easy to say it would make a great library but that is something that would take at least 10 years,” he said, adding “significant investment” would be needed to bring the building up to standard.
“The Council did agree,” he said “to pursue a new library at the Potato Market and I wouldn’t like to give a mixed message that we have changed our minds.”
The city needed a “modern, iconic city centre library branch” and funding was being sought from central government for same, Mr Dowling said.