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In Pictures: A first look inside the brand new €7.5 million Portlaoise Library

Portlaoise Library Main Image

There was a huge crowd in attendance as the brand new €7.5 million Portlaoise Library was officially opened this morning.

Minister Heather Humphreys was there to officially open the facility – with her Department of Rural and Community Development funding €3.1 million of the cost.

A further €2.1 million was secured under the Urban Regeneration Scheme leaving Laois County Council to fund the remainder – roughly €2.3 million.

The original estimate of €2.5 million has almost trebled as long delays have continuously interrupted the project and caused the cost to balloon.

The opening of the new library comes almost a decade after the Old Shaws site was purchased.

The new building includes a community hub space, a study space, children’s services, extensive archives, and a local studies reading room.

It officially opens for business tomorrow and members will receive access from 8am-10pm for 365 days of the year.

Proceedings were officially opened by County Librarian Bernie Foran who began by asking Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council, Paschal McEvoy, to speak.

He said: “I am quite simply gobsmacked by this absolutely wonderful building.

“Portlaoise Library will be a place to relax and recharge as well as study right in the heart of the town.

“The library will have a stock in excess of 30,000 volumes including books, media, audio books and other library material.

“It provides updated ICT facilities, free WiFi, a soon to be installed sensory pod, extended study space for students – and these will all be great additions.”

Minister Heather Humphreys used her speech to praise the work of former Fine Gael Councillor Mary Sweeney who was one of the driving forces behind the project.

She said: “I want to recognise former Councillor Mary Sweeney who also worked in the library for three decades.

“Her vision and commitment to this project was unwavering. You were very ably supported in securing funding by former Minister Charlie Flanagan.

“I can honestly say that Charlie’s pursuit of Michael Ring was relentless. And then in 2020, he received support from Sean Fleming and Pippa Hackett.

“This was really a fantastic team effort. It is a great credit to Laois County Council too.

“By providing a building of this stature in the heart of the town, they have turned the vision into a reality.”

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland thanked everyone involved in the project while Portlaoise poet Pat Boran read two beautiful pieces.

Niamh Morris of Music Generation Laois then performed a wonderful piece on the uilleann pipes.

The ceremony was then concluded by a blessing from Monsignor John Byrne and Rev Janet Finlay.

While Iman Ahmed Halawa also performed a reading from the Quaran.

Check out some further pictures below:

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