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Gardaí say Skibbereen convent fire ‘didn’t start itself’

October 10th, 2020 11:40 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The burnt-out shell of the former Mercy Convent chapel and nuns’ residence in Skibbereen. (Photo: Garry Minihane)

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THE fire that destroyed all but the outer walls of Skibbereen’s historic convent and chapel buildings may have been started intentionally, according to gardaí.

Supt Ger O’Mahony confirmed to The Southern Star: ‘All avenues are being explored, but it’s obvious that this fire did not start itself.’

Last Wednesday and Thursday local examiners from the divisional crime scene investigation unit and the Garda technical bureau in Dublin carried out a detailed technical examination of the buildings at Convent Hill. Shortly after 4pm on September 29th, fire ripped through the derelict convent building and quickly spread to the rear of the chapel building.

Six firefighting crews – two each from Skibbereen, Bantry and Schull – fought the blaze. Within two hours, they had brought it under control, but crews remained until about 11pm to dampen down the charred remains.

Supt O’Mahony confirmed that CCTV footage is being scrutinised and he appealed to anyone – including motorists with dashcam footage – who were in the North Street and Cork Road area of Skibbereen between 3.15pm and 4.45pm last Tuesday to come forward in confidence. As part of the investigation, gardaí are speaking to anyone who was in the area at the time, including those who saw the fire when it started, people living and working in the area, and those who took video footage.

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