Major plan for €4.2m refurb of Macroom's Briery Gap

February 21st, 2019 7:15 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

An artist's impression of the new-look Briery Gap

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A total of €4.2m is to be spent on the refurbishment of Briery Gap Theatre and Library in Macroom

A TOTAL of €4.2m is to be spent on the refurbishment of Briery Gap Theatre and Library in Macroom.

The project on the building, which was gutted by a fire almost three years ago, will transform it into a ‘modern, accessible and environmentally friendly building’, according to Cork County Council.

The Council has said the civic building is designed to have a prominent presence on the street by way of an iconic design.

Its open plan design envisages the addition of a fourth level to the building which will increase its capacity from 186 to 220 seats.

Plans and designs for the building were presented to councillors by Council executive architect Mary O’Brien at a recent Macroom Blarney Municipal District meeting. ‘Cork County Council, as owner of the property, is seeking not only to refurbish the existing theatre and library building, but to upgrade, enhance and transform the building and facilities into a modern, accessible and environmentally friendly building,’ said a Council spokesperson.

‘The new design will provide for better library facilities and access, increased theatre seating capacity, increased bar area and universal access to both auditorium seating levels and better front of house and theatre user facilities.’

Adequate dressing room and rehearsal facilities to the back of the house, as well as adequate stage access and appropriate and safe access to lighting bars and rigs will also be incorporated into the new design. The building’s purpose will remain the same as before, with the public library on the ground floor and a 220-person capacity theatre above, with supporting spaces and adjacent services.

‘It is hoped to redevelop the Briery Gap, not only as a local amenity, but also as a visitor attraction, which will help build on the existing tourism and heritage infrastructure in and around Cork county.’

Speaking to The Southern Star, Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said she welcomed the progress now that the public consultation had finished and that a design had been finalised.

However, she expressed concern regarding the funding of the refurbishment. With €1m committed from the County Council, together with an insurance pay-out, a shortfall of approximately €1.5m still exists.

‘Cork County Council had submitted an application to the Department of Rural & Community Development’s Rural Regeneration & Development Fund (RRDF). The first tranche of grant approvals under this fund were made before Christmas, but unfortunately they did not include the Briery Gap.

‘It’s a pity the Department didn’t prioritise the Briery Gap and include it for funding as it’s very important that the funding be made available as soon as possible, so we can progress with the renovation and get the doors of the Briery Gap back open. This town is missing its valuable cultural hub.’

A tender notice is intended to be issued in August and work should begin on the site in November.


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