Work progressing on Kate O’Brien house

KOB house watchRenovations are progressing at the childhood home of famous Limerick writer, Kate O’Brien, with some more visible changes over the last fortnight.

Since I live nearby and pass regularly, I hated seeing Boru House go from a regal landmark to a house in a poorer and poorer state of disrepair.

 

Vandalism and minor fires made things worse and it seemed as if it would go to rack and ruin. I wrote about it several times in posts, here and here.

KOB house-bestIt was bought in January 2012 and soon after, the most obvious exterior revamp was the railings and gates being painted a dark blue—covering up the bright red. I also saw some work being carried out on the cornice on the imposing bay window. The newest additions are windows on the upper floors, which make a super change from the ugly hoarding. There is also work being done on the striking exterior stone masonry features and pillars.

KOB House-newIt was revealed in May in The Limerick Leader that the buyer was Ballysimon born businessman, David Maxwell Fitzgerald. Originally put on the market for €350,000 five years ago, he seemingly paid €80,000 for it.

Anyone anxious about the fate of Boru House surely breathed a sigh of relief when it emerged Mr Maxwell Fitzgerald is a former chairman of the local branch of heritage body, An Taisce and a long time member of the Georgian Society.

He said there is no rush to find the house’s purpose, “it will have a reason to be and we are engaging with some very interesting people on this”. He added that thankfully, the house was structurally sound and the roof was in a very good condition.

New insulation, replacing windows and doors and repairing damage is also on the renovation programme. I spotted some beautiful fireplaces through the windows and I have it on good authority that there are some great period features in the house. The 3,000 square feet includes seven bedrooms and four extra rooms in the attic.

It would make a lovely addition to the cultural offering here as perhaps a literary museum, library or writing centre. But whatever the purpose, I hope it will be used and/or lived in…did I mention I’m available as a house-sitter?! Annnnnyway, I look forward to seeing the activity continue and will apply my uncanny skills as a spy/stalker to keep readers updated.

Kate O’Brien house finally sold!

Boru House in Mulgrave Street
KOB house-best
The former home of Limerick novelist, Kate O’Brien, has been sold for just over the €85,000 asking price. Can I get a hallelujah?!
As I outlined in a previous post, Boru House in Mulgrave Street deteriorated rapidly after a fire over two years ago. It was a target for anti-social behaviour and was in danger of being damaged further, or destroyed completely. City councillors, Limerick Civic Trust, Limerick Writers’ Centre and many others all appealed for its preservation. Now, hopefully, someone will take on that task and bring the house back to its former glory.
Though technically derelict, it still has many of its original period features (it was built in 1880). The “substantial detached two storey red bricked residential building” spans 3,000 square feet and has six bedrooms. Many civic uses have been suggested but it would also make a gorgeous home if restored.  
I don’t know who the buyer is; he/she wasn’t named in The Sunday Times Home supplement item. Auctioneers de Courcy’s turned down an offer of €75,000 for the property in early December. Before property values crashed, the house and the parcel of land behind it were on sale for €1.4 million. The house was valued at €350,000 at the time—a far cry from €85,000.
The timing of the sale is impeccable because the 28th Kate O’Brien Weekend will take place next month, February 24-26. This year’s theme is ‘Tell it slant’ (from the Emily Dickinson poem,which starts “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant…”) All the events are on in the Belltable, including a music recital, lectures and discussions. The weekend doesn’t just focus on the author’s work but also on society and culture. This year’s speakers include Nobel prize-winner, Séamus Heaney; author, John Boyne; IrishTimes journalist, Frank McNally and sociologist, Dr Niamh Hourigan. A voluntary committee organises the whole weekend and it is always a stimulating, creative programme.
Kate O’Brien wrote novels such as The Ante Room, Mary Lavelle and The Land of Spices. The latter two were banned for references to homosexuality so she was considered an early feminist. She lived in Spain for a time and wrote a book about Theresa of Avila,among other subjects. Two Spanish towns have named streets in her honour.
The full programme is available here and for more information, see www.kateobrienweekend.com.