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Inchicore Public Library Heritage Building’s New Proposals On Track

Inchicore Public Library Heritage Building’s New Proposals On Track – The latest proposals for the future use of Inchicore Public Library Heritage Building have now been revealed in a series of answers to questions posed to Dublin City Council (DCC) by the Fountain Resource Group’s Dublin 8 Newswire.

It now appears that the old art deco building on Emmett road, which has operated as a public library since opening in 1937, will no longer be used to deliver library services to the local community. In the meantime, library services are being delivered for the Inchicore and Kilmainham areas in a temporary facility at Richmond Barracks. This is very much a “stop gap” measure until a brand new state-of-the-art public library is built in conjunction with plans for council development of cost-rental and social housing on land at the former St. Michael’s Estate.

According to Richard Shakespeare, who is the Assistant Chief Executive for DCC’s Planning & Property Development and Culture, Recreation and Economic Services department: “The building will no longer be used to deliver library services. Library services are being delivered at Richmond Barracks in the meantime”. This seems to constitute a major u-turn on behalf of DCC. When the original plans for the refurbishment of the building were drawn up in October 2020 and voted through by the council, there was a decision taken at the time that the building would continue to be used as a public library for this catchment area.

These original plans for a re-vamp of the building, included the installation of an outdoor ramp, to facilitate wheelchair access. Also included in the plans was a suggestion to provide additional space for more services within the library building. These extra services were to include the following: A complete re-landscaping of the grounds to provide ramped universal access to the building; the addition of a new outdoor seating/story-telling area; expanded floor space, with an additional seventy-three square metres; the provision of public toilet facilities; the addition of new loose furnishings throughout the building; the restoration of the building’s original architectural features, including shelving, windows and facade; the introduction of energy efficient improvements i.e. insulation, a new heating system and PV panels; a complete mechanical and electrical refit and some minor structural repairs.

A building contractor was originally hired in October 2020 to complete the necessary work on the building. However, in September 2021, when the Covid-19 pandemic building restrictions were lifted, this contractor informed the design team that they were unable to proceed with the refurbishment for the original tender price.
“Supply chain issues meant that material costs increased and there was a shortage of labour. The fact that the contractor hadn’t commenced on site, meant that he could walk away and we had no hold over them”, explained Shakespeare.
At this juncture, DCC was preparing to hire a new building contractor, but, over a year later, this has failed to materialise, with the building still lying empty and unused.

“Given the length of time it would have taken to complete a new tender and the fact that proposals for a new and larger library building were crystallising at the DCC Emmett Road site, it was considered prudent to suspend the refurbishment proposals and consider alternative uses for the Inchicore Public Library building”, said Shakespeare.
At the time, a council spokesperson was quoted as saying that “construction inflation” was an additional problem, which has further delayed the entire renovation process.
“Construction inflation has been quite considerable for the past two to three years, as a result of materials shortages such as steel, timber, concrete, copper etc., following on from the Covid-19 pandemic. Further, there was some migration of construction workers throughout the pandemic, creating labour shortages, which puts inflationary pressures on labour”, explained Shakespeare.


Site of the present Library at Richmond Barracks

Regarding the current state of repair of the library building and its failure to be listed under the DCC’s Record of Protected Structures, to date, Shakespeare said: “The building is structurally sound. The building fabric has been surveyed within the past month and is in quite good condition. Whether the building is a Protected Structure is irrelevant. The site is being actively managed by the Development Department of DCC”.
A council spokesperson was also quoted as saying that DCC is actively looking at ways to use the old art deco building for “community services”. In response to this, Shakespeare explained: “A meeting with some community representatives has taken place to ascertain the type of community usages that would be appropriate and sustainable. DCC is actively engaging with local Councillors and community representatives to chart a way forward in terms of usage”.

Meanwhile, local activist, Michael O’ Flanagan, who is chairperson of a local committee with the working title of “Inchicore Library Advisory Committee”, explained some of the background to the new proposals for the usage of the building:
“’Inchicore Library Advisory Committee’ was established arising from a public meeting held in Inchicore College for Further Education (ICFE) on 20th September 2022. The meeting was chaired by Michael O’ Flanagan, secretary of The Kilmainham and Inchicore Heritage Group. A poll was taken of those present, resulting in six in favour of the building being returned to a library; twenty-eight in favour of it being converted into an Arts, Heritage and General Exhibition Centre, with full access for the local community and eight in favour of the building being managed by Dublin City Council, with full access for the local community”.

“The purpose of the committee is to engage positively with Dublin City Council, to achieve either one or all of the above options. The committee has met twice since the public meeting and has had an incorporeal meeting with Mr. Richard Shakespeare, an Assistant Chief Executive with Dublin City Council and the Dublin City Council Assistant Area Manager, Mr. Bruce Phillips, to advance the goals of the committee”, O’ Flanagan explained.

“Mr. Shakespeare responded to the views of the committee that the library would not be returning to the building and would continue in Richmond Barracks until the new library is built. However, he made it clear that it was never his intention to sell or lease the building and it was always his intention that the building would be available to local groups. He said that he could see the building ‘being a hive of activity for local groups’”, he added.

O’ Flanagan went on to say that local Labour Party Councillor, Darragh Moriarty, indicated that the majority view from the public meeting was that the building should be used as an Arts, Heritage and General Exhibition Centre. Ready access for those with disabilities was also essential, according to Moriarty.
“This was agreed by both Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Phillips. They also agreed that there should be an audit of the groups in the area, who would be seeking access to the building. Mr. Shakespeare said he would send out a team to inspect the building in the next few weeks and to make it habitable and Mr. Phillips committed to providing the audit. Mr. Shakespeare also said that once a proper management group was in place, he would look at his budget for the refurbishment of the building. He did not favour an outside lift, but would get a cost for the installation of the original design for the outside ramp. Also, he would be agreeable for the ‘Inchicore Library Advisory Committee’ to use the building on an interim basis”, continued O’ Flanagan.

“The building is now listed. Mr. Shakespeare and Mr. Phillips have both committed to protecting the building and ‘making it habitable’. A team has been sent out to inspect the building since we had our meeting with them. Dublin City Council and the DCC Library Service have both made it clear that the library building will not be returning to it’s previous use as a public library”, he concluded.


One Response

  1. This is part of the imposition of a much larger vision on Inchicore. It’s the sort of vision that wouldn’t be imposed on a more middle class area. Authoritarian officials and cllrs. always seem to know what’s best for their conception of the working class.

    What inchicore needs is a shopping centre with all the usual coffee shops etc. St. Patrick’s Athletic offered to build one with a small new stadium on the roof. But no, the authoritarians can’t have that because of a blinkered view that public land cannot be ceded to a private interest, even if that interest gives land in exchange.

    The libo has been loved by generations and it is their wish that it remain a library. The sop offered is that it become a “centre”. That should strike a familiar note. It will spend a lot of time closed. It will be poorly staffed. Eventually it will be decided that it has no purpose.

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