Second Georgian house gutted by fire in Cork

Another historic and protected Georgian building in Cork has been gutted by fire.

A Garda investigation is under way to establish the cause of the huge blaze that destroyed Fortwilliam House in Tivoli, but the first gardaí on the scene found no signs of a break-in and early indications suggest it started accidentally.

However, garda forensic experts were yesterday combing through the remains of the property to establish the exact cause of the blaze.

Fortwilliam House, on the grounds of the Clayton Hotel Silversprings complex, was on the city’s list of protected structures.

It is the second protected Georgian property to be gutted by fire in Cork this year. Vernon Mount House was destroyed in a suspected arson attack last July.

The alarm was raised at 4.15am yesterday and four units of Cork City Fire Brigade rushed to the scene. Third officer Gerry Myers said the building was well alight when the first fire crews arrived at 4.25am. Four more units from the city and Ballyvolane sub-station arrived soon afterwards, as up to 27 fire fighters, using three pump appliances, two aerial platforms, two control vehicles, and a water tanker, fought the blaze. At its height, every on-duty firefighter in the city was involved in the operation, with members of Ballincollig fire brigade put on standby to provide cover for the city.

Firefighters at Fortwilliam House on the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs complex. Pictures: Denis Minihane
Firefighters at Fortwilliam House on the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs complex. Pictures: Denis Minihane

Mr Myers said firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to a single-storey part of the building to the rear, where paint was stored.

The fire was under control within an hour, but firefighters remained on scene throughout the day as dampening down continued.

The detached five-bay two-storey over basement house, built around 1820, was completely gutted.

The building was once used by members of Irish hotelier family the Fitzpatricks, as a base when they were visiting the former Silversprings Hotel. It was also used for discos, small conferences, and other events linked to the hotel. More recently, it was used for the storage of furniture and bedding by the management of what is now a Clayton hotel. The building had been used by hotel maintenance staff throughout Thursday.

Firefighters at Fortwilliam House on the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs complex. Pictures: Denis Minihane
Firefighters at Fortwilliam House on the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs complex. Pictures: Denis Minihane

Unlike the Vernon Mount fire, Fortwilliam House was not derelict and abandoned, but in regular use, and there had been no reports of antisocial activity in the area.

Hotel manager Joe Kennedy thanked the emergency services for their swift response. “Thankfully, no one was injured, and the incident didn’t affect the hotel operations,” he said.

The hotel closed last night, as planned, and is due to reopen on December 27.


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