State of the art Ballymahon library set for grand opening

After almost five years of waiting and a reported €1.5m cash injection, Ballymahon finally looks set to get its own state of the art library.

After almost five years of waiting and a reported €1.5m cash injection, Ballymahon finally looks set to get its own state of the art library.

Set on the site of the south Longford town's nineteenth century courthouse, the newly revamped library has captured the imagination of locals following its completion earlier this month.

Only relatively minor exterior works remain unfinished as businesses and political figureheads gear up for its grand opening over the next few weeks.

"I have been inside, it is complete and it looks spectacular," smiled a clearly delighted Cllr Barney Steele this week. "Ballymahon has grown quite a bit over the last few years which meant the library we had before was simply inadequate."

The former market house, founded in 1819, is one of County Longford's oldest buildings, becoming a noted judicial premises for many years.

More recently, the building was turned into a library, providing a valuable learning tool to schools and local residents alike.

Much of its heritage including a well preserved judges' room have been retained and there are even plans to erect a statue of famous poet, Oliver Goldsmith on the grounds of its new modern looking plaza.

This, along with the refurbishment of the building's ground floor which now houses computer facilities, lending and reference sections as well as an eye-catching seating area for newspapers and magazines are just some of the striking features included in the new design.

Cllr Steele said the library's spacious new headquarters would not have been possible without the skilled workmanship of Galway development firm Purcell Construction and Sean Harrington Architects from Dublin.

But according to the long serving Fianna Fail representative, there was one man who helped bring the multi million euro project to its eventual fruition-Junior Minister Dick Roche.

"When he was Minister for the Environment, he came to Ballymahon to open our new fire station and the Sli Na Mona housing estate. When he was here he saw the old courthouse and actually made a ministerial announcement that evening saying that its was going to be refurbished," said Cllr Steele.

County librarian Mary Carleton Reynolds and Director of Services at Longford County Council, Frank Sheridan were two others to come in for noteworthy praise from Cllr Steele.

No official announcement has been made as to when the newly revamped library will officially open, although Cllr Steele admitted a "late February or early March" unveiling was, at this stage, the most likely outcome.