Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Former Magdalene Laundry gutted in suspicious blaze

The fire at the former Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday's Well, Cork this morning. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision.A HISTORIC convent which was the site of a notorious former Magdalene Laundry has been gutted in an early-morning blaze.

The fire which devastated the sprawling Good Shepherd convent complex in Cork is now being treated as suspicious and a possible arson attack.

Five units of Cork fire brigade fought the huge blaze which was detected shortly before 7am.

However, such was the intensity of the fire that portions of the convent roof collapsed with massive damage done to floors and walls.

The Sunday’s Well area of Cork was left under a shroud of black smoke and ash.

Residents fear that the scale of the damage is such that the listed building will now have to be demolished.

The building – which was developed in 1870 – has been derelict for over a decade.

It was used for more than 100 years as an orphanage and then as a Magdalene Laundry for unmarried women who had become pregnant.

Plans to develop it as a luxury apartment complex foundered with the property market collapse.

It is now being administered by receivers KPMG on behalf of a British bank.

Local resident Tom Coleman said it was an event that everyone had been dreading. 

“This isn’t the first fire that has been there. But it is a sad day to see such a fine building destroyed. The fire was appalling. I only thing I can see now is that the building will have to be demolished,” he said.

The Good Shepherd was also the home of Ellen Organ (4), an exceptionally holy child who has been venerated for generations as ‘Little Nelly of Holy God’.

She is buried in a cemetery adjacent to the gutted convent.

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