Frank McCourt Museum building withdrawn from auction
Author’s former school building, Leamy House, was due to be sold by Allsop
Una Heaton, curator of the Frank McCourt Museum, who is trying to buy the building. Photograph: Marie McCallan/Press 22
Leamy House in Limerick, formerly the school where Frank McCourt was educated, was withdrawn before it was due to be auctioned yesterday.
The future of the Frank McCourt Museum, which is housed in the building, was thrown into doubt when the listed Tudor-style property was put on the market on the instructions of a bank with an initial asking price of €325,000.
However, the estimated price had been reduced to €140,000–€180,000 in advance of going for auction in Dublin through Allsop auctioneers.
Allsop said it was removed from auction because all relevant documentation was not submitted in time to allow potential buyers to inspect it ahead of the sale.
Una Heaton, the curator of the Frank McCourt Museum, confirmed she is making efforts to buy the building.
Leamy House was previously owned by Ms Heaton’s husband John but, following an unsuccessful business investment in which the building was used as collateral, it was put on the market on the instructions of a bank.
The former schoolhouse building attracts a rental income of €23,500 per annum from its four tenants, which includes annual rent of €100 from the museum on an “informal tenancy”.
Ms Heaton said she was determined to keep the museum open but accepted its future was uncertain.
“We are still under pressure but the bank are giving us a bit of breathing space so we are trying to buy the building with a bit of help from friends.”
She erected a “save our building” banner in front of Leamy House yesterday and said she had also received positive feedback from a Facebook campaign.
Since it opened in 2009 almost 100,000 people have visited the museum, where a portion of the author’s ashes have been placed in a box overlooking his former classroom.
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said the local authority considered purchasing the building in the past but decided against it “for structural reasons”.