An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire which badly damaged the former Good Shepherd Convent in Sunday's Well in Cork city.

The huge blaze extensively damaged the central section of the building and Cork City Council officials have been assessing the extent of structural damage on foot of concerns that the building is now unsafe.

The convent, once an orphanage and a Magdalene laundry, has been derelict for a number of years.

Formerly owned by developers Frinailla, it was taken over the Ulster Bank in recent times. The bank appointed KPMG to manage the site on their behalf.

In a statement issued today, KPMG confirmed it is liaising closely with the emergency services, Cork City Council and the security firm appointed to oversee the site.

In 2003, another huge fire gutted the eastern section of the building which included a church which had a preservation order on it.

The huge blaze, which gutted the mid-section of the large Victorian red-brick building built in 1881, could be seen from all over the city from first light.

Five units of the Cork City Fire Service tackled the fire and brought it under control after the alarm was raised at around 7.30am.