Blaze in historic building believed to have been caused by arson
A fire which badly damaged an historic structure ranked as one of Ireland's most haunted buildings is being treated as suspected arson.
The fire which almost gutted the St Kevin's unit of the St Anne's/Our Lady's Hospital complex is the third blaze to severely damage an historic structure in Cork in recent years.
Last year, the 18th century Vernon Mount mansion in Cork was destroyed when youngsters started a bonfire that quickly raged out of control.
Fires have also been started at the Good Shepherd complex.
The St Kevin's unit of the Our Lady's psychiatric hospital complex, which dates to 1893, was virtually gutted in the fire that was detected around 8pm on Tuesday night.
It hasn't been used as a mental health facility since 2001.
Six units of Cork Fire Brigade, supported by a unit from Mallow, brought the blaze in the five-storey complex under control.
While the roof remains largely intact, three interior floors have collapsed.
The red-brick building ranks as one of Cork's iconic landmarks.
At one point, flames could be seen raging through the building roof. A tall plume of smoke from the blazing complex could be seen all over Cork's skyline.
Gardaí are now investigating reports that three teenagers were seen running from the area as the first fire brigade units arrived.
Cork Fire Brigade official Gerry Myers said major damage was inflicted.
"The building is being examined by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Cork City Council's building control officials," he said.
"There is also an engineer on site.
"One of the gables collapsed inwards during the fire.
"Two other gables are now tilting outwards so the concern now is over the integrity of the building."
Councillor Mick Nugent said the destruction of yet another historic Irish building was "a shame".