John Street library plans shelved for new vision for Kilkenny's Carnegie building

Councillors have backed the new plans which include a 'cultural quarter' around John's Quay

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

KILKENNY

The Carnegie Library in Kilkenny City

Plans to develop a new city library at 75 and 76 John Street — the former ‘Meubles’ site — have been shelved in favour of ambitions to further develop the existing Carnegie library and transform John’s Quay into a cultural quarter.

At this week’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, chief executive Colette Byrne said the development would be ‘far more than just a library’, and would be a multi-functional space of at least 1,5000sqm. It will involve extending the Carnegie Library to the rear.

The estimated cost of the project is in the region of €4.5 — 5 million, and €2.5 million of that will have to be found locally.
The item was formally proposed by Cllr David Fitzgerald, who five years ago was the lone voice opposing the original John Street library plan. At the time, he described it ‘a waste of taxpayer’s money’, and instead called for the Carnegie Library to be expanded and developed.

This idea received the backing of other councillors on Monday. Cllr Malcolm Noonan welcomed the plan, saying it was a better proposal, and he seconded it.

“I think there’s great potential in reconfiguring that area of John’s Quay,” said the Green Party councillor, adding that there was an opportunity to liaise with St John’s Priory.

Ms Byrne confirmed that the proposed designs would include the public realm around the library, including the Evan’s Home building.

The council has an ambition to relocate the Butler Gallery to a fully-renovated Evan’s Home, which is located to the rear of the library carpark and toward John Street. Ms Byrne said she was ‘confident’ that the council would receive funding for the Butler Gallery in the weeks ahead.

“There will be consultation on this and it will be back before the members,” she said.