Limerick museum set for its fifth move in 100 years

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Sarah Mollafghan, Caherdavin, and Amy McCarthy, Patrickwell, who work in Pamela Scott's on Bedford Row, give the thumbs up to the new Museum opening in the Old Franciscan Church Henry St. Picture: Mike Cowhey
IT is nearly 100 years old, is named in honour of one of Limerick’s most famous men, and has never enjoyed a permanent home.

IT is nearly 100 years old, is named in honour of one of Limerick’s most famous men, and has never enjoyed a permanent home.

But after a chequered history, Limerick City Council has announced that the Jim Kemmy museum is due to move into its new residence in the former Franciscan Church on Henry Street this March or April.

Oliver O’Loughlin, director of service at Limerick City Council, made the long awaited announcement at a cultural and sporting meeting of both local authorities in Dooradoyle this Tuesday night.

The historic church, which is currently being used for a number of artistic functions, will be leased from the Beneventure Trust for a period of five years, but may be extended.

The building, a protected structure, will not be in a position to be occupied by the museum, which first opened in 1916, until the end of March.

Mr O’Loughlin told the Limerick Leader that the cost of the lease is currently part of the negotiations, but should represent “good value”.

“It’s a fantastic building and we are fortunate to be in a position to get it. It has the space requirements but we will have to go in and fit it out to be fit for purpose. We would definitely hope to be in there in the second quarter of this year,” he said.

Brian Hodkinson, acting curator of the museum, said in the coming months they will be examining the logistics of which items among the museum’s 55,000 strong collection should be put on public display, many of which have been in storage for several years.

These include parts of a meteorite which fell in Adare over 100 years ago, to axes which date back to the Neolithic period, and items from 4000BC up to the present day.

Labour councillor Tom Shortt welcomed the announcement, saying the museum has been the “most homeless institution of Limerick City Council for a long time.”

It is currently based on temporary location in Istabraq Hall in City Hall, after being moved from the nearby grounds of King John’s Castle, where it had been based for 12 years.

Prior to that it was situated in John’s Square for 20 years, after it was originally housed in the Carnegie building - now home to Limerick City Gallery of Art - from 1916 up to the 

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Shortt said: “I know it’s not a permanent home, but I don’t want a Mickey Mouse result, and I don’t want it to take forever either.”

He urged that the museum should consider an exhibition to coincide with the centenary of the start of World War One later on this year, but Mr Hodkinson said this was not being currently considered due to the workload involved in the move.

“A lot of the larger objects are in storage at the moment, such as clocks and a diving suit, so we’ll be able to put them on display. I think I’m the only curator in the country that has had to move as many times as I have.

“Being next to the castle was probably better than where we are at the moment [City Hall], because we got lots of visitors from the castle, but in John’s Square we were out on a limb,” he said.