Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Boole's house: too little, too late?

Cork City Council are to spend €135,000 'making safe" number 5, Grenville Place, Cork - the former home of noted scientist and mathematician George Boole.

In October, this blog was the first to report on the partial collapse of the former home of George Boole. In a series of posts and photo essays, we've covered the story in more detail than any other media outlet.

While there has been resounding silence from many elected officials on the matter, Cork City Councillor Kieran McCarthy has been pushing for the building to be saved and for other similary buildings to be repaired before such a devastating collapse happens.

In response to a series of questions by Cllr. McCarthy at a recent Cork City Council meeting, Tim Lucey, Cork's City Manager said the Council would be spending €135,000 to try and save the building.

The work, being carried out under Section 3.2 of the Sanitary Services Act (1964) is thought to involve removing the roof and internal floors of the  damaged part of the building and erecting a steel frame to support the remainder.

The City Manager confirmed that the City Council are paying for the work to be completed but that they plan to recoup the cost from the owner(s).

While the Cork City Council do not plan to purchase the historic building, Mr. Lucey said that the council would "subject to the consent of the owner, establish the level of interest in its future use/development, from the range of bodies which have expressed views to the Council on its historic importance".

Let's be clear about what is happening here. This money is being spent to further partially demolish the building. While the roof and floors have now been removed, the steel frame has yet to be inserted.

The City Council's role of protecting listed buildings has been forgotten. Cork City Council should purchase the building under derelict sites legislation (minus the cost of securing it up till now).

The current plan is a recipe for longterm dereliction on the site and for eventual complete demolition. If the Council, in conjunction with other interested parties, do not draw up a plan for the site in the near future, it will have wasted €135,000 and this historic building will be lost to the city.

At a time when we should be investing in our tourism offering and when our international reputation for science and technology is key to an economic renewal, it is disheartening to see such a iconic building on the verge of being lost.

While Cork City Council have stepped up and provided this money for temporary works, it is the least they could do given their total neglect of their duties to ensure that listed buildings are maintained properly by their owners.

Let us hope that this initial investment is the start of some real investment in terms of finance and willpower to save this building and that it is not too little, too late.


Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 12:56 AM  

Has anyone doing a public campaign to raise the money to buy it? Boole is an important figure in the history of computing. Many people in computing admire his work.

I'd be willing to work on this.
Chris Hables Gray, Ph.D., Lecturer UCSC (California)
2014 guest scholar at UC College Cork (Digital Humanities)

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