The demolition of a Georgian building in Limerick with links to Daniel O’Connell has caused dismay among conservationists.
Number 6 Patrick Street, which dates from the 1780’s, was torn down as part of the €200m Opera site redevelopment.
The house – one of the city’s oldest Georgian buildings – had ties to one of Ireland’s greatest political figures, Daniel O’Connell (1775 – 1847) founder of the Catholic Emancipation movement.
Known as the Liberator, O’Connell lodged regularly at 6 Patrick Street during visits to Limerick in the early 1800’s.
A picture of the now demolished building posted by contractor and conservation expert Randal Hodkinson on Twitter has been viewed 35,000 times.
Another piece of Georgian Limerick gone forever.
Patrick St. , Opera site. pic.twitter.com/ccq7lxxiaY
— J.HODKINSON & SONS (@JHOD1852) November 7, 2021
Another building of Historical significance on the Opera site is No.4 Patrick St., formally William's Stores, and reputably the birthplace in 1811 of Catherine Hayes ,the world famous Irish Soprano of the Victorian era.
This building is unique in that it still retains pic.twitter.com/YhEH4LMhqn
— J.HODKINSON & SONS (@JHOD1852) November 9, 2021
“It’s a sad loss of such an historically significant building. It shouldn’t be up to ordinary people to document these things. There was a survey done of all houses on that site before the recession, their history and occupants, and that’s all documented in the planning offices,” he said.
Hodkinson hopes the fully intact interior of a second building of historical interest, number 4 Patrick Street, can be saved.
“The Williams’ family operated a general good store there since the 1880’s, it’s an example of a beautiful old Victorian shop. It would be a shame to lose that,” Mr Hodkinson said.
The great patriot O’Connell’s links to number 6 Patrick Street were documented in Maurice Lenihan’s History of Limerick.
“He lodged, during his periodical visits, at the house number 6 Patrick-street, then occupied by Mr Sheehan, a saddler: where he was constantly besieged by attorneys and clients.”
“His appearance as he walked with a thorough air of independence ‘kicking the world before him’ to and from Court, or through the city, always attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd of admirers,” Mr Lenihan wrote.
This historical text was provided by Limerick based Dr Paul O’Brien, former secretary of An Taisce.
“In the context of the recent loss of another eighteenth-century building – Curragower House – it really brings to the fore, the continued destruction of Georgian Limerick,” Dr O’Brien said.
The demolished house is one of 18 Georgian houses on the four-acre Opera redevelopment site at the junction of Patrick and Ellen streets in Limerick city.
It was one of two Georgian properties to be demolished under An Bord Pleanala planning approval, while 16 others will be retained and redeveloped by the Limerick Twenty Thirty LTT company.
A spokesperson confirmed that numbers 6 and 7 Patrick Street could not be saved due to structural issues.
The LTT spokesperson said while the loss of the property and the connection to Daniel O’Connell was regrettable, there was no mention of it during an oral hearing into the development in 2019.
“These buildings are not alone important from a heritage perspective but, when merged with complementary new build architecture, bring a unique added value to our projects,” the spokesman said.
The site is being developed with plans for retail and apartment space, a new city library, commercial space and an aparthotel.