New Limerick Civic Trust boss to advance Military museum plan

Thomas Wallace O'Donnell, Chairman and Alec Gabbett, Vice-Chairman of Limerick Civic Trust Photo: Keith Wiseman

THE NEW Limerick Military Museum will be the subject of an all-out effort to open in time for the 2019 tourist season, it has been revealed.

Limerick Civic Trust is currently converting St Munchin’s Church, a deconsecrated church that was built in 1827 on King’s Island, into a Military Museum.

When the conversion is complete, the Trust plans to exhibit two important military collections already in its care – the Carrol Collection, which is currently housed in Trust’s headquarters at Bishop’s Palace, and the Armstrong collection.

The Trust is aiming to open the museum by the tourist season in 2019 but funding has been a problem. Earlier this year they launched a campaign to help raise €350,000 to complete the conversion.

The military museum aims to become a unique visitor attraction that will greatly enhance the tourist offering in Limerick’s medieval quarter as well as benefiting the local economy and community.

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Speaking about his aspirations in his new role as Chairman of the Civic Trust, Thomas Wallace-O’Donnell said, “There are two particular projects that I am keen to see delivered. The first is getting the Military Museum at St Munchin’s up and running and developing it into a functioning civic space beyond that.”

“Our campaign for donations of artefacts and memorabilia of Irish historical significance from abroad has enjoyed relative success; however our campaign to attract financial donations needs some impetus.

“People think we are an extension of the council but we’re not. We are our own entity – a voluntary organisation.  We need to engage more with Corporate Limerick and seek their support if we are to open the museum in 2019 and complete other worthwhile projects.

The second priority for Mr Wallace-O’Donnell is the erection of a memorial wall to commemorate the Limerick people who died in the Great War – a project that is being driven by Limerick Civic Trust in association with EML architects and others.

“It’s a shame we haven’t managed to get agreement from the local authority on a suitable site yet in Limerick, especially as we have such strong military pedigree. Places such as Midleton, Ballina and Woodenbridge – even Kilkenny this weekend – have managed to undertake similar projects with great success and if we are blocked from having this very important project completed by the time the centenary commemorations are over it would be most unfortunate and a missed opportunity,” he said.

As one of the youngest members of the board of the Civic Trust, the new chairman is also keen to encourage younger people to get involved with civic society through the Trust.

A practising barrister, Mr Wallace-O’Donnell will chair the voluntary organisation for the next two years. Alec Gabbett, Leahy & Partners Solicitors, has been appointed Vice-Chairman and John Leonard from Grant Thornton has been appointed chairman of the Finance Committee.