New city library plans hit a wall

PLANS for a large new library in Kilkenny City have hit a major obstacle, with confirmation this week that part of the old city wall has been discovered and the current plans will now have to be scrapped.

PLANS for a large new library in Kilkenny City have hit a major obstacle, with confirmation this week that part of the old city wall has been discovered and the current plans will now have to be scrapped.

An unknown structure was discovered during preliminary archaeological excavations at the site earlier in the month. There were rumours abound that it might have been part of the ancient medieval wall as it is along the lines of its route, and this now seems to be the case.

It is part of a structure that would require demolition before any construction could take place. It now looks like the multi-million euro project will have to be considerably altered if it is to proceed in any form.

At a recent meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council, Cllr John Coonan (FF) asked city manager Joe Crockett whether there was any problems with the ongoing works. At the time, Mr Crockett said it was not yet known whether what has been found was part of the old city wall, or something else entirely. He told the members that every detail of the project was being carefully dealt with.

“We are going the extra yard in terms of archaeological excavation,” he said.

With confirmation now that the structure is indeed the old city wall, it remains to be seen how things will proceed.

The new two-storey library building was to be built to the rear of 75 and 76 John Street. Construction of the new 1,450sqm building would require the demolition of extensions at the rear of these buildings, the removal of the boundary wall between them and County Hall, and demolition of an adjacent outbuilding. The site is located within the John Street Architectural Conservation Area, and both 75 John Street and County Hall are protected structures.

Criticism

The scheme has near-universal support within the council, with the exception of Cllr David Fitzgerald, who has called the project ‘a disgrace’ and ‘a waste of taxpayers’ money’. His preference is to expand and develop the existing Carnegie Library on John’s Quay.