Chorus of calls on Opera renaming for those who put 'Limerick on the map'

Nick Rabbitts and Jess Casey


Nick Rabbitts and Jess Casey

Project Opera: James Ring wants to see different elements of the future €200m development named in honour of people who have also put Limerick on the map internationally

Project Opera: James Ring wants to see different elements of the future €200m development named in honour of people who have also put Limerick on the map internationally

THE €200m Project Opera office development should be named in honour of famous and influential Limerick people.

That’s according to Chamber chief executive, Dr James Ring, who has called for the title ‘Opera’ to be ditched.

With the final piece of the jigsaw of the €200m office development put in place last month, Dr Ring wants to get a discussion going on the naming of the four high-rise office blocks, and other areas.

Instead, he wants the site – which will provide 3,000 jobs – renamed as the ‘Ambassador Centre’, and its streets and buildings to be named after some of the city’s famous sons and daughters.

“Most of the streets of Limerick are called after sons and daughters of wealthy families and people themselves. But this is a new part of Limerick we’re going to build. So why not recognise people who have come up, not from wealth, but through hard work and talent, putting Limerick on an international scale,” he said.

Dr Ring name checked Paul O’Connell, JP McManus, plus the late Terry Wogan, Richard Harris and Dolores O’Riordan, who sadly died last month.

“All these names are synonymous with Limerick internationally,” he said.

With four towering blocks, a new public realm, as well as a number of side streets on a four-acre site, the potential is there to honour several Limerick people.

And Dr Ring wants a debate – and potentially a vote – to take ​place on the pages of the Limerick Leader, and elsewhere.

In the wake of the Cranberries frontwoman’s passing last month, there were calls to rename the Opera site in its entirety to Dolores.

Seamus Flynn, proprietor of the former Royal Theatre wrote to council to ask if Project Opera could be renamed in her honour.

And his call was this week backed by metropolitan mayor Sean Lynch.

Dr Ring acknowledged that Project Opera, formerly the Opera Centre site, is named in honour of the famous soprano Catherine Hayes.

But he feels she should share the stage with others.

“I don’t think it’s enough to warrant an entire section of Limerick effectively being called in her memory. We are going to have a whole lot of new buildings, new streets and pathways in this centre. So what I’d like to do is recognise some of Limerick’s great international ambassadors. Let’s use this chance to use this part of Limerick and recognise those Limerick people who make Limerick what it is today,” he added.

Cllr Lynch says there is often confusion when people hear of Project Opera, with people believing an amphitheatre may be erected there.

“I think we need to talk about Catherine Hayes and who was Catherine Hayes and what she did for Limerick, then look at the connections between Catherine and Dolores. In so many ways, there are an awful lot of similarities. Two very very famous people who put the city on the map both nationally and internationally in their respective genres,” he added.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has this week said on big schemes like Project Opera, it is the government’s preference to see both residential and commercial.

There have been complaints in some quarters of a lack of any sort of accommodation in this flagship.

Mr Murphy told reporters: “I would hope whenever we are progressing new sites, that what we are able to find there might be a mix of residential and vice-versa to make sure we have shops and businesses. When we talk about larger sites, I think it’s important we make sure there is viability of site including life and community.” He was speaking after opening the Lord Edward Street social housing scheme in the city.