RESIDENTS in Schull are calling for the village’s historic convent building to be listed as a protected structure.
More than 1,600 people have already signed the online petition – on the change.org website – which calls on Cork County Council to give the Mercy Convent ‘listed building’ status.
That type of status would mean the building’s listed features, including its historic façade, could not be altered without planning permission.
The petition was initiated by people who are concerned that the 116-year-old building – which recently sold at public auction for €840,000 – could be altered, or worse demolished, unless the Council deem it to be a protected structure.
No one has made any suggestion that the new owner would do anything untoward, but locals nevertheless believe it is imperative that the Council act now to secure its future.
Locals fear that a developer could, potentially, have dramatic changes in mind, given that the site comes with 1.6 acres. One person said: ‘This generation has a responsibility to protect the history of past generations for future generations.’ Schull Convent has, for more than a century, played a pivotal role on the Mizen peninsula by providing positive and meaningful education to generations of school goers.
‘The Schull convent building is,’ according to the person who posted the online petition, ‘held in very high regard by the people of Schull and the Mizen peninsula and we believe it is also of architectural value.’
The two-storey former convent displays interesting characteristics of early 20th century architecture, with side chimneys and a steeply pitched hipped roof with decorative ridge tiles and finials.
Early photographs of the convent building are included in Fergus O’Connor’s archive of photographs in the National Library of Ireland. Of the 30 buildings in Schull that are listed in the national inventory of architectural heritage, many were built in the early 20th century. These include Schull library, which was built in 1930; the Church of Ireland hall, circa 1910; and the former AIB bank, which is now the Schull Film Centre, in 1922-23.
The petition urges ‘Cork County Council to act promptly and consistently with the above buildings and to protect this significantly important building to avoid it ever being the victim of demolition.’
‘It is,’ the petitioners say, ‘a cultural, social, historical and architectural asset that ought to be protected for future generations.’
The Southern Star contacted Cork County Council and requested clarity on the building’s status.