One of Buncrana’s best-known landmarks, the former Swilly Hotel, was destroyed by fire in the early hours of this morning.
Fire and emergency services raced to the scene after the alarm was raised at around 1am.
The hotel, which hosted King George and Queen Mary in 1902, was also the home of Flanagan’s Furniture before being taken over by liquidators at the beginning of this year.
Flanagan’s Furniture owner Brian Flanagan said it was “the final chapter on a fine building that was put up on 1870.”
He said keeping vandals out of the premises had been an ongoing challenge. “We managed to keep vandals from destroying it since we left in 2005 but it was always very difficult. Month after month, we had to board and re-board the building. In fact, when we bought it in the first place, it was largely due to the despair of the first owner, as he couldn’t keep the vandals out of the place.
“It’s a real shame that vandalism is so prevalent now. So many vacant properties are in the hands of liquidators or NAMA and they can’t afford to maintain the buildings in such as way as to keep the vandals out. Capital assets around the country are being destroyed by vandals and that’s an impoverishing feature of the present economic situation.