Some weeks ago the CEO of Limerick Civic Trust David O’Brien talked me through some of the works being undertaken by Limerick Civic Trust at present. One that stood out was their plans to create a new Military Museum located in the former St Munchin’s Church on King’s Island.
The King’s Island part of the city is witnessing what might be considered a renaissance in terms of the personnel now in place to run some of the key Limerick attractions in the area.
David O’Brien took up the reigns of Limerick Civic Trust not too long ago. Since his appointment we have seen Niall O’Callaghan (formerly of the IDA) heading up Shannon Heritage. Most recently we have seen Niall J Sloane appointed to the role of Dean at St Mary’s Cathedral and Jill Cousins appointed as director of the Hunt Museum.
These appointments are not only bringing a fresh approach to each individual institution but also offering a new opportunity for cross collaboration as Limerick develops its tourism strategy. During the recent Team Limerick Clean-up I could sense a palpable sense that the King’s Island/Nicholas St area of the city is already benefiting from the energy being brought to the table by these new cultural leaders.
This week Limerick Civic Trust has launched a campaign to help raise €350,000 so it can complete the conversion of St Munchin’s Church, a deconsecrated church, into a Military Museum.
The Trust began restoring the historically important St. Munchin’s Church, King’s Island and converting it into a museum in 2016. Work completed to date has been funded through the Trust’s own funds but this pot is almost completely expended.
David O’Brien explained, “We are happy with our progress to date but it has been slow and piecemeal because of the lack of funds, we need financial support if we are to open this museum by our target date of 2019. As with all large historic building projects, the conversion is costly and Limerick Civic Trust, as a voluntary organisation, is dependent on external support.”
“All donations, however large or small, will help us achieve our target of opening next year. Whether it is a €20, €200 or €2,000 donation, personal, corporate or philanthropic, all will be gratefully received and personally acknowledged. Alternatively, individuals or corporate organisations can support our efforts by becoming members of the Trust or we have a number of corporate donation options available too,” he continued.
The “Open Doors” campaign goal is to raise €350,000. This will allow Limerick Civic Trust to speed up the conservation work and to specifically improve accessibility, make minor roof repairs, install a new floor and bathrooms and fit out an appropriate controlled environmental system for the safeguarding of the collections.
“The question is, ‘Does Limerick need a military museum?’ and I think overwhelmingly the answer is, ‘yes’, for two reasons,” said Brian McLoghlin, Chairman, Limerick Civic Trust. “Firstly, the military history of Limerick from the time of the Siege of Limerick right up to the world war needs to be properly recorded and told. Secondly, this will become a unique visitor attraction that will greatly enhance the tourist offering in Limerick’s medieval quarter.”
The Museum, which will be non-political, will commemorate the regiments of Limerick since the Siege in 1691 and provide a home for three historically significant collections; the Armstrong Collection, the Carrol Collection and the Patrick Casey Collection.
The Armstrong Collection is a vast collection of memorabilia from the Armstrong Family in Co. Tipperary that includes military artefacts going back as far as the Boer War. Artefacts include a coach from the mid 1900’s, uniforms, medals, helmets along with correspondence from the decorated hero, Paddy Armstrong, in the form of postcards and old photographs.
The Carrol Collection, which is currently housed in the Trust’s headquarters at Bishop’s Palace, is a very important exhibition bringing together the military memorabilia and family heirlooms collected by five generations of the Carrol Family starting with Major General William Parker Carrol. It includes paintings, swords, photographs, trophies, maps, military decorations and personal family documents relating to the Peninsular campaign, the Boer War and both World Wars.
To expand on the museum’s offering Limerick Civic Trust is working with several interested parties on the repatriation of other artefacts of Irish historical significance from abroad back to Ireland, just like the Bannatyne staircase – a World War 1 memorial that has been donated by Cotswold’s District Council in the UK recently. The Bannatyne staircase will be installed in the museum.
Since the early 1990’s, Limerick Civic Trust has been entrusted to take care of St. Munchin’s Church and graveyard on King’s Island. This now deconsecrated church was once home a 6th Century monk who was a contemporary of St. Patrick. A newer church replaced a crumbling oratory in 1827 and was designed by the Pain Brothers. Up until recently, Limerick Civic Trust used this space as a training centre and a hub where local groups could use the space to launch art exhibitions and the like.
While primarily a visitor attraction centre, the museum will be developed as an historical and educational resource for the local community and schools. Specific educational outreach programmes will be developed so students can learn more about their local history through a hands-on learning experience.
Donations can be made via www.limerickcivictrust.ie or by contacting David O’Brien at 061-313399