THE former Jesuit Church at The Crescent would be an ideal location for a new City Museum - which will soon have to make way for the redevelopment of King John’s Castle - and Limerick City Council should investigate acquiring it for this purpose, Cllr Kevin Kiely told Monday’s meeting of the sports and cultural committee.
Cllr Kiely claimed that the National Asset Management Agency was currently trying to “offload” the former Church of the Sacred Heart “and from what I hear, it could be picked up for very little”.
A spokesman for Rooney Auctioneers, however, said the property had not been transferred to NAMA but a receiver had been appointed by ACC Bank to dispose of the property. The building was purchased for a reported €4 million by the late Galway developer John O’Dolan at the height of the property boom in 2006 and, according to reports, could now be available at a knockdown price of as little as €800,000.
The Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum is currently accommodated at Castle Lane but director of services Pat Dowling confirmed it would have to be relocated as part of Shannon Development’s €6 million plans for King John’s Castle.
Cllr Tom Shortt said Shannon Development was under pressure “to meet a deadline for the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the castle next year” and a purpose-built facility should be provided for a new museum. Cllr Shortt said space restrictions at its current location meant only a fraction of its collection of 50,000 items could go on display.
Mr Dowling said that while Shannon Development’s plans for the castle were only at an early stage, their proposals for the Castle Lane Tavern “cannot encompass what our museum is about”. A good city centre location would be important to encourage “more members of the general public from Limerick to come, and not just visitors, the location at the moment is an inhibiting factor”, Mr Dowling said.
On Cllr Kiely’s suggestion of the Jesuit Church, Mr Dowling said “I had a look at that building only last week”.
But he clarified after the meeting that this statement should in no way be taken as meaning the Council was actually interested in purchasing the church.