Fears that iconic building may face demolition after arson devastation
An iconic Cork building which was badly damaged in a suspected arson attack may have to be demolished.
The fire, detected at 8pm last Tuesday, almost gutted the 124-year-old St Kevin's unit of the St Anne's/Our Lady's Hospital complex.
The red-brick building boasts a commanding site over the River Lee and ranks as one of the most famous structures in the city.
Gardaí are now investigating the fire, which is being treated as suspected arson.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the blaze as "a tragedy" for the city.
"I am shocked, to be honest. It is a beautiful building and this is the second such loss in Cork in a year after the Vernon Mount fire last year," he said.
"Buildings of this kind should not be left empty for any undue length of time."
"When the State has buildings such as this, they should be put to good use."
It took six units of Cork and Mallow Fire Brigades to bring the blaze in the five-storey structure under control.
The fire spread quickly within the building and, at one point, flames could be seen raging through the roof.
A tall plume of smoke from the blazing complex could be seen all over Cork's skyline.
Cork Fire Brigade official Gerry Myers said major damage was inflicted.
"One of the gables collapsed inwards during the fire. Two other gables are now tilting outwards so the concern now is over the integrity of the building."
The former psychiatric hospital has been examined by Health Service Executive and Cork City Council officials as well as by structural engineers.
Two thirds of the structure was gutted and three interior floors have collapsed.
There are now fears that such substantial structural damage has been caused to the building it may have to be demolished on safety grounds.