Gheorghe Biros carrying out work to conserve the site Picture: Sean Curtin
IMPORTANT works on a “historically significant site” on Nicholas Street in Limerick city are underway.
The Fireplace site at numbers 36-39 Nicholas Street - part of a wall that likely dates from late 15th century - has been secured by the council while stonemasons begin the intricate and delicate work of restoring the fireplace and surrounding structure.
The site has been a cause of certain controversy among councillors who have disputed its archaeological importance, with John Gilligan noting at a recent council meeting that the authority had spent “€1m keeping the site there for 25 years, and it’s still a wreck”.
Yet works are now underway to secure the site, located at the corner of Nicholas Street and Peter streets in an area of “high archaeological potential”, the council said. The 1990s demolition of existing derelict buildings in the area revealed a stone party wall that contains the fireplace and stone corbels, situated between what were probably two stone medieval houses that date back to the late-medieval or early post-medieval era.
The works being carried out include an intricate archaeological and conservation engineer's analysis, mortar testing to establish the correct mortar to be used in the works, and a very detailed 3D-laser scan survey.
Maria Donoghue, Executive Architect with Limerick City and County Council, said the authority was “conscious of Nicholas Street and its key link between the city centre and King John’s Castle, and plans are already in place to rejuvenate the street.”
There has been calls for over 10 years to rejuvenate the street and the authority confirmed in March that it would be invest more than €700,000 to bring a number of derelict units back to life.
The St Mary’s Park Men’s Shed is to move into 27 Nicholas Street and are are expected to share the unit with the Irish Wheelchair Association.
Speaking to councillors last month, Ms Donoghue also revealed that a high-profile commercial operator had expressed an interest in moving into numbers 24 and 25 Nicholas Street.
Ms Donoghue said the intention was to “develop the area in a balanced and considered way that works to preserve the archaeological remains of King's Island's while simultaneously supporting urban revitalisation needed for the present.”