‘Devastating’ Dunmanway convent blaze

March 28th, 2023 5:50 PM

By Jackie Keogh

A scene from the aftermath of the fire at the old convent building in Dunmanway. (Photo:Denis Boyle)

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DUNMANWAY residents have spoken of their devastation after a fire last Saturday night at the Daughters of Charity Convent building, a chapel, and a former secondary school in Dunmanway.

Cork County Council’s fire department said the alarm was raised just before 7pm and the Dunmanway fire brigade responded very quickly.

The Council spokesperson said Clonakilty Fire Brigade, along with a water tanker and hydraulic platform from the Bandon Fire Brigade, also attended the scene. ‘Thanks to the hard work and dedication of these firefighters,’ the spokesperson said, ‘they were able to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the building.’

The site is owned by Cahalane Brothers Ltd, a well-known contracting firm that had already redeveloped one third of the site as their base of operations. Cian Cahalane spoke to The Southern Star to express their gratitude to the firefighters. ‘We want to thank them for their swift response and their skill in containing the spread of fire,’ he said.

It is understood that there had, of late, been complaints about vandalism in the old dormitories and it was in the dormitories that the fire is believed to have been started.

‘It was devastating,’ said local Independent Cllr Declan Hurley, ‘to see the true extent of the damage in daylight.

‘The old convent is,’ he added, ‘a huge part of Dunmanway’s history and to see it engulfed by flames was truly heartbreaking, but I’m confident the building will rise from the ashes once again.’ 

Local FF Cllr Deirdre Kelly recalled how many of her generation went to school there and said she has ‘many happy memories of the place.’ ‘The sight of the convent on fire on was very sad to see,’ she said.

It is understood that the fire crews, working together, had the blaze under control within an hour, but the damage caused is visible in the charred husk of the old school building. 

Gardaí in Dunmanway and Clonakilty are investigating. ‘Good progress has been made in the investigation,’ a spokesperson said. ‘We would also request that anyone with any information would contact the gardaí in Dunmanway or Clonakilty in confidence.’

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