Garda investigation launched after historic Limerick building ravaged by fire

Garda investigation launched after historic Limerick building ravaged by fire

GARDAÍ have launched an investigation after a historic Limerick building was destroyed by fire in the early hours of Saturday.

Emergency services were called to the Sailor's Home on O'Curry Street at around 1am on Saturday following reports of a fire.

Crew battled for around four hours to bring the blaze under control at the 19th century building.

Gardaí are now investigating the cause of the blaze, as well as a report of a car fire a few hundred meters away at the junction of Henry Street and Mount Kennett Place.

"Gardaí and fire services attended the scene of a fire at a property on O'Curry Street in Limerick at approximately 1am this morning, Saturday, July 1, 2023," said a statement from gardaí.

"An examination of the scene was due to take place this morning.

"No injuries reported. Investigations are ongoing."

Images captured by historian Dr Paul O'Brien and shared on social media show the devastation wrought by the blaze.

The Sailor's Home was built in the 1850s to house some of the 1,500 seamen who passed through the city each year, with many having been paid off at the end of a voyage.

However, there is no record that it was ever used for its intended purpose.

'Beautiful old building'

In a statement, the Limerick Civic Trust said that despite the blaze, it hopes to restore the building to its former glory.

"There was some very sad news overnight with the fire at the Sailor's Home on O'Curry Street," read the statement.

"The Limerick Civic Trust have for many years sought to restore and occupy this beautiful old building, we now wish to work with all parties, [building owners] the Shannon Foynes Port Authority, their agents and others to bring this site back to its original glory."

According to Tadhg Moloney writing in the North Munster Antiquarian Journal, the building was never used for its intended purpose amid fears Catholic sailors would be subject to proselytising.

Various religious organisations sought to rent or buy the building, while there were claims that it was used for the secretion of voters brought in from rural areas.

It housed the Limerick Militia between 1872 and 1909 and later the RIC, while An Garda Síochana took up residence following the establishment of the Irish Free State.

It has been unoccupied for several years but has occasionally been used in recent times to host art exhibitions.


Irish visual arts organisation EVA, which had used the building for exhibitions and training, revealed it was to be one of the venues in their biennial event later this year.

"We are devastated to wake up to the news that the Sailor's Home — a historical venue that has served as a unique setting for a number of EVA exhibitions in recent years — suffered a major blaze in the early hours of the morning," read a statement.

"The Sailor's Home was scheduled to be one of the venues for the forthcoming 40th EVA International opening on August 31 this year.

"We'd been using the venue over the past week for staff training and preparatory work.

"We are in close contact with the authorities to ascertain the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage."