9 December 2021
By Elaine Murphy
The refurbishment of the Briery Gap Theatre and Macroom Library in County Cork begins this month with Cork County Council planning to deliver a new theatre and library in the heart of the town centre.
Internal works will commence during December; however the main works will begin in early January so as not to hinder the Christmas retail period in Macroom. The project which is being undertaken by Cumnor Construction is expected to take 18 months and is due to be completed by June 2023.
The building suffered extensive damage when a fire broke out in May 2016. The Briery Gap Theatre has remained closed since then and Macroom Library has relocated to nearby Railway View.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr, Gillian Coughlan says it is a really positive development,
“Cork County Council together with its team of consultants have designed a wonderful space that will become a focal point in the vibrant town centre of Macroom. Before the fire in 2016, the theatre and library operated as separate entities within the one building. The refurbished facility will be reconfigured to create a flexible civic amenity and hub for the arts. It will certainly provide a boost to local businesses. I’m looking forward to seeing theatre-goers and book lovers of all ages returning in the summer of 2023.”
The Briery Gap Theatre dates back to the 1950s and was renovated in 2003 The refurbishment works will see a new steel, concrete and timber framed structure inserted into the existing masonry shell.
The main auditorium of the theatre will have its capacity increased to 217 people. It will occupy the central space of the building. There will also be increased backstage support facilities and a bar/foyer will be located at the upper front of house. The building will be fully accessible with the library located at the ground floor and rear ground floor levels.
Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey added,
“We’re committed to ensuring that our towns are vibrant places to live and work. The refurbishment of the Briery Gap Theatre and Macroom Library will stimulate the town centre and will have a positive impact on the streetscape. This building will be a most welcome addition and supports the aspirations and objectives of the County Development Plan for Macroom Town. It is located within an Architectural Conservation Area and much thought has been put into the heritage context. The new design is sympathetic to its environment and uses natural clay brick, lime render and timber fenestration throughout. The concrete lintels will also look similar to the local soft limestone available nearby.”
The Macroom Theatre and Library refurbishment will deliver a high quality, landmark building to the South Square, Macroom. The project has been designed and is led by Cork County Council’s Architects Department together with their team of consultants: Consulting Engineers Horganlynch and EDC, ASM Group, CK Fire and Theatre Plan.