Friday, 26 July 2019

A bay window and
pilasters are reminders
of a Limerick bakery

The former Imperial Bakery with its interesting oriel window, Corinthian pilasters and fluted limestone pilasters (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Sometimes, when a building is vacant and the windows are without the clutter of business and commerce, it is possible to appreciate their plain and simple architectural beauty.

In the past, No 24 Sarsfield Street, Limerick, has been the Imperial Bakery, more recently it was a branch of the Permanent TSB Bank, and is now vacant.

This terraced, single-bay three-storey building dates from ca 1890, and has a limestone shopfront. It is particularly eye-catching because of its three-sided canted-bay oriel window on the first floor, but the limestone shopfront with its Corinthian pilasters and the fluted limestone pilasters in the recessed shopfront are also worth giving attention.

The limestone shopfront has squat Corinthian pilasters joined by a timber fascia board with moulded detailing over the capitals. The elaborate glazed timber overlight has leaded glass panes. Beneath this, there is an additional recessed inner shopfront with fluted limestone pilasters that flank the door to the upper floors and the central display window and central entrance.

The walls of the façade are faced with red brick laid in English garden wall bond, with rusticated red brick quoins at the side rising to parapet level.

The timber-framed, three-sided canted bay window has a rendered ogee soffit, leaded glass panes and dentil enriched eaves on the three-sided hipped tile roof.

On the second floor, there is a tripartite square-headed window, with a continuous limestone sill course and lintel, red brick piers and timber casement windows with leaded upper panes.

The parapet entablature has a red-brick frieze, a limestone ashlar frieze architrave and a modillion cornice, beneath a concrete blocking course. The roof is concealed behind the parapet wall.

The decorative façade was added in the early 20th century and its composition has been described as ‘vernacular monumentality.’

The Feeney family ran the Abbey Court and Imperial Bakery for many years, winning the accolade of All Ireland Bakers of the year on many occasions.

Vincent Feeney was the Mayor of Limerick in 1966-1967. He featured in an RTÉ documentary on ‘Newsbeat’ in 1967 about the Mayor of Limerick throwing a 3-ft dart into the River Shannon, asserting his traditional rights as Admiral of the Shannon, in a custom dating back to 1834.

Today, the former Imperial Bakery on Sarsfield Street is vacant and is available on lease through Durkan auctioneers and estate agents. Many of the neighbouring buildings on Sarsfield Street were levelled to facilitate the Liddy Street relief road in the early 1980s, so the survival of this building is an important part of Limerick’s commercial and architectural heritage.

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