It may have taken the best part of a decade and cost in excess of €1m, but for the large crowds who filed through the doors of Ballymahon’s new state of the art library recently, it was worth every penny.
In fact, such was the welcoming atmosphere and quiet sense of satisfaction on display, you could have been forgiven for forgetting all about the words ‘general election’ which held the following week.
County Librarian, Mary Carleton-Reynolds summed up those sentiments during her opening address.
“What I would say to people today is to park all your pessimism and bad feelings of how things are in the economy behind you today and come in here and celebrate this wonderful occasion,” she said.
Paying testament to the ‘tremendous teamwork’ of a large project team headed up by Sean Harrington Architects and Galway development firm, Purcell Construction, Ms Reynolds said the opening marked a proud moment for Longford, the county council as well as her own career as a local authority employee.
Longford County Mayor, Cllr Paul Connell said the ceremony symbolised a rare “good news story” in the face of incessant financial constraints and ongoing cutbacks.
County Manager, Tim Caffrey took a somewhat more candid approach by highlighting the importance of library services across the county. The County Council chief even cast a gentle reminder to the new incoming government of future projects which have yet to receive the official go-ahead.
“Library services are never more needed than they are now....This is a wonderfuy facility and for whatever government is in place over the next number of years, I’ll put a challenge down that Granard and Edgeworthstown (libraries) are waiting.”
While Mr Caffrey’s remarks had most in the former courthouse nodding their heads in hushed approval, former Fianna Fail TD, Peter Kelly saw the opening segment of his speech abruptly interrupted by the screeching sound of an impromptu fire alarm.
“I hope that’s a false alarm,” he laughed.
In welcoming the attendance of various dignataries including his Longford/Westmeath running mate, Mary O’Rourke who according to Mr Kelly was “downstairs reading a book,” he said the new library would bring a much needed boost to the greater Ballymahon area.
“I don’t think anyone can dispute the importance of libraries to the lives of the younger generation. This library is a place where people of all ages can enrich their lives through meeting others, through studying or learning languages,” he said.