Mayor of Kildare Martin Miley with Minister Michael Ring TD , Martin Heydon TD and KCC CEO Peter Carey
There was great fanfare in Athy this morning as the new library at the former Dominican Church was officially opened.
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring TD, cut the ribbon on the new library surrounded by staff and well wishers including the Mayor of Kildare, Martin Miley and Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon.
All local councillors were also present at the occasion, alongside former Deputy Jack Wall, KCC CEO Peter Carey and Chief Librarian for Kildare, Marian Higgins. It was described as a ‘great day for Athy’.
The Kildare County Council choir provided the music opening proceedings with ‘ The Bare Necessities’ from the Jungle Book.
Mayor Miley said that since the new library opened in Athy last February over 20,000 people have passed through the doors and 100,000 more are expected in the first year.
“The long term plan is that the library will be open from 8am to 10pm including Christmas Day,” he said.
Tribute was then paid to the former Dominicans priests, some of whom were also present and to the families affected by yesterday’s news that the local Coca-Cola plant is to close in Athy by 2019.
“The new library is a spring board for what is going to happen here on the site. The new plans include 25 sheltered houses, an eco park and water centre and the Blue Way will also be coming along here. So it is very exciting what is happening here. We had some bad news yesterday and that was a great shock to the community but green shoots can come from it just like when the Order sadly left Athy after 800 years - but look at what we now have today.”
The Department of Rural and Community Development provided a contribution of €1.65 million to the project under the Library Capital Investment Programme 2016-2021. A further €2.1 million was provided by Kildare County Council towards the cost of the project.
Recognising the importance of the library for Athy, the Minister said: “The library has been designed to meet the significant and diverse needs of the citizens of Athy and the surrounding areas and will act as a hub of educational, cultural, information resources and civic engagement.”
The Minister noted that “our public libraries create great opportunities for the communities they serve. This wonderful facility realises the potential and promise of a modern, evolving library service and, as times have changed, libraries and library staff have been to the forefront embracing this change. In particular, libraries are offering lifelong learning opportunities - supporting literacy and providing access to a wide range of online resources and modern technology.”
The Minister acknowledged the importance of local and central government working together to deliver local services. The Minister referenced the commitment of Kildare County Council, saying: “Without Kildare County Council’s commitment to the project and its investment of more than €2 million, we wouldn’t be here today opening this wonderful community facility.”
The new library is situated in the former home of the Dominican Order in Athy.
Minister Ring added that the iconic building is an integral part of the history of Athy so it is fitting that life has been breathed back into it again and it has been transformed into this inviting and inspiring community space.
READ MORE: Official opening tomorrow