Cinema could bring Limerick City street back to its former glory

Nicholas Street in the heart of Limerick's Mediaeval Quarter.

IN the 1690’s Nicholas Street was beating heart of Limerick City.

Now, it is time for this “forgotten” historic quarter of the city centre to be brought back to prominence once more, according to Sinn Féin councillor Tom Collopy at a special meeting of the local authority last Thursday.

The City North representative hit out at the council executive for neglecting Nicholas Street before pointing out that it is one of the most historically important areas of the city.

“It is time to reinstate it,” Cllr Collopy declared.

“I am listening, day in day out, on how it has been long forgotten. The potential commercial contribution for the whole of Limerick from this area must not be underestimated.”

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Council members were told that there is currently a budget of €500,000 for the Nicholas Street area.

Fine Gael councillor Olivia O’Sullivan reminded council members that from 1936 to 1972 there was a cinema on Nicholas Street. She believed that a cinema, could again, be a huge draw for the area.

“People are desperate for the city centre to have a cinema again. I would like to see Nicholas Street get a cinema. It could be something smaller and independent and still very successful,” Cllr O’Sullivan suggested.

A similar idea mooted by the local authority was for an outdoor cinema in the green area between King John’s Castle and City Hall.

Cllr O’Sullivan also took the view that the road surfaces and infrastructure in the city’s Medieval Quarter “encourage us to stop” and don’t invite people to delve further.

“The surface at King John’s Castle changes when you get to Nicholas Street and you feel like you should stop — like a definite line has been drawn.

“Historic feature lighting to reflect the character and era is also needed,” she added.

Party colleague Sarah Kiely (FG) took issue that traders in the area were charged exorbitant rates “for the privilege of enlivening our city”.

“That should not happen. You are always pulling back on businesses and they can’t sustain it. It is unrealistic,” she fumed.

Cllr Kiely also claimed that the surfaces in the Nicholas Street area are not fit for purpose.

“There are seven or eight different types of surface. Festoon lighting is needed as well to make it easier for pedestrians to find their way in this area.”

Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins called on the Council to make it easier for businesses “to take a punt” in the city’s historic quarter.

Director of Planning Nuala Gallagher told councillors that there is an absolute desire to support businesses in Nicholas Street. She assured members that there is a concerted effort to make that happen.

“This is one of the priority areas for us of the city,” she said.