Limerick band set to be drummed out of home

ONE of the city's oldest brass bands could be homeless after Limerick City Council gave them until next Tuesday to vacate its Newtownmahon premises.

Two years ago, the St John's Brass & Reed Band - founded in 1865 - were served with a compulsory purchase order by city hall as their premises was earmarked to make way for the new city centre orbital road.

But the group claim despite numerous representations to City Hall after it was asked to identify similar facilities to replace their current bandhall, they have not heard anything, aside from the letter informing them they had just a week to move out of their bandhall - which has been their home since 1954.

And last week, the final straw came when band bosses arrived at the bandhall to find building contractors outside their premises.

Band secretary Sean Hartigan believes had he not driven past the bandhall, opposite Limerick Fire Station, it could have been destroyed altogether.

"I was driving past, and saw some bulldozers (to the back] of the building. They were pushing things over and knocking things down. Immediately I parked my car and went in, where I found the foreman of the site. Outside our back door, I found tonnes of rubble which blocked our emergency exit. He (the foreman] came over and told me they would 'look after' our building shortly. I told him they cannot knock this building because it is privately owned by the band," he explained.

According to Sean, the foreman said that he had not been told of the fact the bandroom was still occupied.

He added the band was disappointed by "the failure of Limerick city council - whether deliberate or inadvertent - to inform the site foreman that our bandroom was still occupied and contained valuable and extensive collections of sheet music, as well as instruments, stands and other property."

The bands' musical director John Doyle admitted he is fearful as to what might happen to their equipment if they do not find even a temporary home by next week.

As we went to press this Tuesday , no spokesman from the city council was available.


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