The proposed county library project will see a new library building developed at the site of the existing glór facility on the Causeway Link providing a new County Library for Clare to replace the existing De Valera Library on Harmony Row.
Background to the Project
The development of a new county library facility has long been sought after by past and present members of the council, as well as by the local community.
The existing library facilities at Harmony Row in Ennis are housed in a former Presbyterian Church on Harmony Row and were officially opened on 16 July 1975. The site has historically been prone to flooding, most recently in 2009 when floodwaters damaged considerable stock and led to the decommissioning of the Clare Room in the Local Studies Centre.
Clare County Library is one of our most valuable resources and it is appropriate therefore, that it is provided with a modern facility that strengthens Clare’s reputation as a cultural centre as well as support economic and social activity in Ennis.
Ireland has seen some ambitious library buildings developed in the last decade and some outstanding and beautiful architectural structures have been achieved as a result. It is envisioned that the new county library will be one of these buildings combining technologically advanced services whilst keeping the customer at the heart of service delivery.
The development will provide a model of best practice and will include measures to maximise the sustainability of the scheme for the county.It is anticipated that the building design will provide a contemporary response to the modern library whilst remaining user friendly, energy efficient and adaptable for future changes in use.
The new county library truly will be a library for the 21st century and will be complemented by the provision of a modern, new exhibition space.
Funding the County Library project
The project is funded from a number of sources, in January 2016 following a grant application process €3m was made available from the Dept. of Environment, Community and Local Government, a further €1m in EU grant aid was secured from the designated urban grants scheme under the Southern & Eastern Regional Operational Programme 2014-2020 and €1m in grant aid in 2019 from the Dept. of Rural and community Development. The balance of funding is being met by the Clare County Council’s own resources.
In July 2016, Keith Williams Architects were selected by Clare County Council to design the new county library.
Keith Williams has worked in Ireland since 2001 with projects which include the National Opera House, Wexford (undertaken with the OPW), 3 projects in Athlone, Co. Westmeath namely the Civic Centre, the Luan Gallery, and the Army Memorial, and in Co. Monaghan, Clones Library and County Library HQ. His firm works internationally across a broad range of sectors for public and private clients and is a leading specialist designer of museum, gallery, library, civic and performing arts buildings, and has received approaching 40 national and international design awards for its work.
The architect-led design team comprises:
- Keith Williams Architects Ltd (Architects)
- Ove Arup & Partners Ireland Ltd T/A Arup (Civil and Structural)
- Axiseng M & E Ltd T/A AxisEng (Mechanical and Electrical)
- AECOM Professional Services (Quantity Surveying Services)OLM Consultancy (PSDP)
Consultation and delivery
The stakeholder consultation stage of the county library project commenced in July 2016 when the design consultants met with Municipal District of Ennis staff and key stakeholders in the flagship project, including staff of Clare County Library and glór. The process of consultation has continued up to the final design.
Members of the public and stakeholder groups interested in the proposed new County Library for County Clare were asked for their input during seven public consultation events in 2016.
The design team has completed Stage 1 (preliminary design) and Stage 2 (Sketch design). The county library project was granted planning consent following a Part 8 process in February 2018. The preparation of tender documents for the construction phase has commenced.
The project is subject to ongoing cost reviews and stage approvals as per guidelines issued by the department.
Keating were awarded the contract for the construction of the new library project and Clare County Council turned the sod on the new county library at glór on Friday, 20th December, 2019. The event was officiated over by Minister Michael Ring. T.D. Minister for Rural and Community Development and Cathaoirleach Cllr Cathal Crowe, Mayor of Clare. Work on the 2,321sq.m building on the glór site commenced on 6th January, 2020. The building will comprise of two public floors of library space incorporating the local studies centre, a separate art gallery and the County Library HQ on the third floor. The state of the art new build development will provide a key resource for research, study, recreation and art in a centralised location adjacent to the well-established glór theatre. The project represents an important investment in an accessible and modern library service for the people of Clare and visitors to the county.
The library construction was halted in July 2020 due to the main contractors L&M Keating going into receivership and eventually exiting the site completely in Sept of 2020. The re-tender process commenced again post covid and a new contractor – Coolsivna of Galway recommenced work on the site in May of 2022. It is expected that the project will be completed in the latter part of 2023.