A LIMERICK hotel has closed for business just as the tourism season hits its peak.
Rathkeale House Hotel, which opened in 1997, ceased trading last night.
As a result, 15 full-time and 18 part-time staff will lose their jobs.
Businessman Tadhg O’Connor, who owns the hotel, said they had taken the decision to concentrate on their other businesses as builders providers and furniture suppliers.
He said the hotel, which stands on five acres, had other possibilities, but he denied it was being turned into a nursing home.
And more than 70 jobs are under threat at a well-known Limerick nursing home due to regulation demands by a government body.
St Paul’s Nursing Home in Dooradoyle, which cares for about 50 elderly people, faces closure in November as the Bon Secours nuns, who run the facility, are unable to fund a major refurbishment ordered by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
Sr Catherine Casey, manager of St Paul’s, said: “A major refurbishment is required to bring the house up to the standards required today, but there is no finance available to do this.”
The Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, Councillor Richard Butler, who lives near St Paul’s, said he plans to hold talks with private companies in the coming days to try and save the home.
He said: “Sr Catherine is the last of the nuns left and she will not be able to continue because of this.
“There is just no money there for modernisation.
“St Paul’s is an integral part of Limerick and needs to be maintained.
“There is a list of people trying to get into St Paul’s and I have never heard a complaint about St Paul’s – only how high a standard of care it maintains.
“I cannot see why HIQA is putting pressure on it to modernise during the present downturn. I plan to meet with healthcare providers over coming days to see if they have an interest in taking it over.
“If people start to move out, the building is no longer a nursing home. If everybody moved out, then it will be sold on as a building, rather than a going concern,” he said.
“But I know the local community are very happy with it being used as a nursing home. What the building may be used for afterwards is a great concern. We need to attract someone who will use it as a nursing home,” Mr Butler said.
Sr Catherine, who will retire shortly, said: “If someone else takes it over, it would be great. We would be delighted. But, from my own point of view, there are no younger members coming in to run it.”
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