Pictured at an event hosted by Clare County Council on Friday (31st May, 2024) to officially mark the end of construction and commencement of fit out of the new De Valera Library were (l-r): Cllr Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach, Clare County Council; and Patrick Gardiner, Director, Coolsivna Construction Ltd.

Elected members of Clare County Council joined with Oireachtas members, members of the glór board, management team and staff of Clare County Council in attending a tour of the new De Valera Library and art gallery located at the Causeway Link, Ennis, on Friday, 31st May.

Pictured (l-r): Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council; and Anne Haugh, Director of Rural Development, Clare County Council.

They were guided through the new building by members of the project team who briefed those in attendance on the layout and proposed finish of the impressive multi-functional space. The 2,321sqm building comprises a public library over two floors which includes the local studies centre, a 100sqm art gallery and incorporates the County Library headquarters on the top floor. The iconic building was designed by Keith Willams Architects based in London and construction re-commenced with Coolsivna Construction in April 2022.

New Ennis Library site visit

Exterior of new library

The visit marked a significant milestone with the ending of the construction phase and the commencement of library fit-out which will take several weeks to complete. Work Rest Play based in Belfast was awarded the tender fit-out and the visitors were shown aspects of shelving, desking, and seating which have arrived recently to site and are presently being installed. It is expected that the library will decant the three service points of public library, local studies centre and library headquarters onto the site over the coming weeks, with an anticipated opening date of later in the summer.

Cllr Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, expressed his satisfaction with the building stating that, “I’m delighted to see that the interior reflects the scale and ambition of the exterior of the building and I would like to acknowledge that for myself and my fellow Councillors we feel we have contributed to creating a lasting legacy for the people of Ennis and the county.”

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council, added that, “This new County Library project is a landmark initiative aimed at providing a modern, engaging and inclusive space for learning, community engagement and cultural enrichment. I am especially pleased to have delivered this project during my term as Chief Execuitve and I look forward to watching the community make it their own and embrace the many opportunities it will afford in the future.”

Anne Haugh, Director of Rural Development with responsibility for libraries, Clare County Council, stated that, “This long-anticipated project, developed by Clare County Council, designed by Keith Williams Architects with construction led by Coolsivna, represents a significant investment in the future of our community. The new library is designed to cater to the diverse and changing needs of the population, offering a wide range of facilities and services that reflect the evolving role of libraries in the 21st century.”

Keith Williams, architect, reflected that, “The realisation of the main phases of the new De Valera Library represents an important milestone in the progress of this extraordinary new civic project. The building is looking magnificent, and I and my fellow director Richard Brown look forward to working with Clare County Council and the design and construction teams, towards its finalisation and eventual public opening later in the year.”

Currently, the present library holds a book stock of 49,000 items, of which 19,000 are devoted to children’s services, the local studies centre holds a stock of 15,000. The new branch will combine the public library and local studies centre. The library recorded close to 80,000 visits last year by the public, and it is anticipated that with the new facilities and services available in the new building this figure will double when it opens. Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian, added that, “The new library will now hold a stock of 70,000 items. The branch will also hold an additional store of 22,000 books which will supplement the public offering”. She added that “the dedicated children’s area will contain a cubby sensory hub providing an immersive multi-sensory space as well as access to sensory toys, board games and a dedicated ‘maker space’”.

Other items of note include laptops and hublets which will be provided for use in the library and there will be ample seating and study spaces provided throughout the building. There is a dedicated teenage space and a multi-purpose meeting room available for use for lectures and library clubs while three single booths, which provide privacy if required for interviews or research, are located on the first floor. The library contains a universally accessible toilet compliant with the ‘changing places’ policy.

A 100sqm art gallery which sits separate to the library but is adjacent to glór is an additional element of the build and puts a focus on a joined-up approach to the provision of cultural services on the site – unifying the visual, performing, and literary arts.

For more information on the Ennis Library Project