University College Cork (UCC), which is planning a range of celebrations next year to mark Boole’s bicentenary, has sanctioned €600,000 for the project with Cork City Council to save the protected structure at Grenville Place.
City councillors will be asked next week to sanction the compulsory acquisition of the building as the first step in the project, which will lead to it being redeveloped, and handed back to UCC for development as a landmark building.
The news comes ahead of a ceremony next Monday in St Michael’s Church Blackrock, where Boole is buried, to mark the 150th anniversary of his death.
Boole, a self-taught mathematical genius, was UCC’s first professor of mathematics in 1849. His pioneering work with algebra and logic led to the creation of Boolean Logic — a key building block for modern coding and computing.
During his time at UCC, Boole lived in 5 Grenville Place, and wrote some of his most famous work there. However, the building had fallen into a state of disrepair and dereliction.
As the city council liaised with the legal representatives of the building’s owner, who had inherited it around 2004, it emerged that the title to the property was defective and attempts by the owner to resolve the situation had failed.
The property was declared derelict in 2009 and suffered a partial collapse in October 2010. The council undertook stabilisation works to prevent further damage and explored with UCC possible future uses for the building, but lack of funds on both sides stalled progress.
A technical survey and a feasibility study were commissioned and when UCC designated 2015 as the Year of George Boole, the redevelopment became a reality.
Councillors will be asked next week to approve the compulsory acquisition of the building, and to allow the city architect draw up redevelopment plans with UCC. The council will undertake internal building work before handing it over the UCC.
Historian and Cllr Kieran McCarthy welcomed the news.
“There is a crater on the moon named after George Boole. Hopefully through this project his name will join the ranks of Fr Mathew, Nano Nagle and Tomas MacCurtain as great historic figures of Cork.”
UCC’s George Boole200 celebrations will include a Boolean Art Exhibition, and three international conferences.