Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Minister Officially Opens €1.6M Cultúrlann Sweeney In Kilkee

Photos Courtesy Eamonn Ward

The €1.6m redevelopment of a 1950s public library building in Kilkee has resulted in the delivery of West Clare’s foremost cultural and library facility. That’s according to Mayor of Clare Cllr. Pat Hayes who joined Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in officially opening Cultúrlann Sweeney at O’Connell Street, Kilkee this evening. The 8,299 sq-ft development, which is almost double the size of the original Sweeney Memorial Public Library, comprises additional library space, theatre and exhibition space, and multifunction spaces. The new theatre and foyer/gallery facilities have been designed to accommodate approximately 110 people, while the number of book titles in the library stock exceeds 12,500.

The project was funded by Clare County Council, in association with the Charitable Commissioners of Ireland, as well as the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Mayor of Clare Cllr Pat Hayes said: “The official opening of Cultúrlann Sweeney represents the completion of one of the biggest infrastructure projects to be undertaken in the West Clare area in recent years. The facility will greatly enhance the social infrastructure of the area and will help the future development of Kilkee and its environs.” Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, paid tribute to the project construction and design team which he said had contributed to the further enhancement of the range of services now being provided by Clare County Library and the Clare Arts Office. Helen Walsh, County Librarian, thanked the public “for their patience and understanding during the redevelopment process”. “The project has led to an improvement in the standard and range of independent functions within the building, allowing for different activities to occur independently. This new facility will play an important public and social role within the town”, she added.

The Sweeney Memorial Library building dates to the 1950s and was designed to provide multipurpose functions, including library, theatre, cinema, and a dance-hall and lecture room. According to Bernadette Kinsella, Director of Services, Clare County Council: “The main reason behind the redevelopment of the previous building was that it did not sufficiently address modern accessibility requirements, nor did it possess efficient heating, advanced stage technology and the expanding functions of a modern community library”. Commenting on the structural changes to the building, Ms. Kinsella stated: “The primary changes to the internal layout are the separation of library and theatre functions within the existing building by incorporating a new first floor level auditorium. The new side extension contains the new floor space and exhibition gallery, the provision of lift access to the upper level, the new entrance foyer, and the upgrade of existing electrical and heating systems”.

The Architectural Services Department of Clare County Council, Architects Andrea Goble & Ruth Hurley, carried out feasibility studies, devised the concept design, developed the brief, and designed the Part 8 Planning application. The brief for the project was developed in conjunction and consultation with dozens of groups, including Clare County Library, Clare Arts Office, Clare County Council, Kilkee Town Councillors, Area Councillors, Kilkee Civic Trust, and drama and community group representatives from the Kilkee area. The library service was temporarily relocated to Kilkee Community Centre during construction, which commenced in January 2011. L&M Keating Ltd. of Kilmihil carried out the contract for the refurbishment and extension to the original public library building. The project design team for the Detail Design, Tender and Construction stages included Denis Byrne Architects (Architects), Malachy Walsh & Partners (Structural Engineers), Matt O’Mahony & Associates Ltd (Mechanical and Electrical Engineers), and O’Reilly Hyland Tierney (Quantity Surveyors). The Project Management team were Clare County Council’s Helen Walsh (County Librarian), Siobhan Mulcahy (County Arts Officer) and Andrea Goble (Architect).

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