Gerry McManus to make multi-million euro investment in Limerick property after fire

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Kilmoyle on the North Circular Road was extensively damaged by a fire last November, with its owner now seeking to rebuild the house on the same site

Kilmoyle on the North Circular Road was extensively damaged by a fire last November, with its owner now seeking to rebuild the house on the same site

A BROTHER of billionaire businessman JP McManus is prepared to make a “major investment” in restoring a property on Limerick's North Circular Road to its former glory.

Gerry McManus is seeking planning permission from Limerick City and County Council to move the former Bishop’s Palace to a new location on the same site, after much of the property was devastated by a fire late last year.

Documents lodged with the local authority said that Mr McManus is “prepared to make a major investment in this site, but it needs to be the correct solution.”

The residence, which is now uninhabitable, was once the most expensive property ever to change hands in Limerick.

Developer Aidan Brooks, now based in London, bought the eight-bedroom, three-storey property, along with six acres of land, for €26 million in 2007 amid intense bidding.

Mr Brooks still retains Portland House, the former Church of Ireland’s bishop residence, next door to Kilmoyle and in the region of five acres.

Three years ago the property changed hands, when was acquired by Gerry McManus.

While it was listed as selling for €1.1m, according to the Property Price Register earlier this year, the figure does not include the sale of land around the property.

The revised plans for the site seek the removal of late 20 century house extensions and outbuildings, the deconstruction of the existing dwelling house and the reconstruction in a new location, as well as the construction of a two storey extension to the relocated dwelling.

The file also lists the construction of a gate lodge to the North Circular Road entrance, the construction of courtyard buildings, and other works.

Limerick City and County Council has expressed serious concerns about proposals to move the former Bishop’s Palace to a new location on the same site.

In correspondence this summer a council planner wrote: “The planning authority has serious concerns in respect of the proposal to move the building” given that the house is “composed primarily of golden sandstone” which, it says, can be “weak and prone to the process of decay”.

While not a protected structure, it is designated as being of national importance and is listed in the National Inventory of National Heritage.

While works to refurbish the interior of the house were carried out previously, following an earlier planning application,  it was subsequently extensively damaged in a fire last November.

According to planning documents submitted to the council, just a marble fireplace and the cantilevered staircase survived the fire.

It is proposed the original chimneys, the outer walls, cast iron gutters and downpipes as well as two granite sills would all be retained and reused.

Architect Michael Healy of Healy Partners said a conservation architect and a stone mason recently carried out “limited opening up works” at Kilmoyle House to ascertain the feasibility of dismantling and moving the building.

“Overall the cement was removed with relative ease and did not cause any damage to the arises of the stone,” he states.

Limerick City and County Council has indicated a decision is due by the end of next month.

The house, which dates back to the 1850s, was once the home of former bishops Donal Murray, and Jeremiah Newman.

Mr Brooks had previously applied for planning permission to build a nursing home and retirement village on the site, but did not proceed with the development.