This afternoon, the government announced that €25 million in funding is to be dedicated to the Old Library Redevelopment Project.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, and Minister for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, made the announcement at a press conference at the Old Library this afternoon.
O’Brien said that the “conservation of our heritage is of national importance” and that “Trinity has been a custodian of this national treasure for centuries, caring and protecting it for all our benefit”.
He continued, saying that “today’s funding award ensures it will remain with us for many more centuries to come”.
Noonan also emphasised the importance of preserving Ireland’s cultural heritage, saying “this is particularly relevant as we emerge from the current pandemic”. “This funding recognises that we have a shared responsibility towards our built and cultural heritage and that investment in the care of such heritage will continue to enrich all of our lives” he continued.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the Old Library is “one of Ireland’s foremost heritage sites and a jewel in the nation’s crown” and hopes that this funding will help to safeguard “our heritage for generations to come”.
Provost Patrick Prendergast commented that he is “delighted that government is supporting the Old Library’s conservation and redevelopment plans”. He also said the Redevelopment Project is “essential in order for this national heritage building to continue in its unique dual role as a world-class library and a national cultural institution that is an international visitor destination”.
College Librarian and Archivist Helen Shenton emphasised the importance of works housed in the Old Library that have “inspired generations of students, academics and visitors”. She believes the Redevelopment Project will allow College “to both conserve this magnificent 18th building and its collections, as well as make it more accessible to our scholars and public in an historic building reinterpreted for the 21st century”.
Trinity received planning permission from Dublin City Council for the Old Library Redevelopment Project last autumn. The redevelopment is set to be carried out by architects Heneghan Peng, who previously worked to conserve and redevelop the National Gallery of Ireland.
A spokesperson for College said that the Old Library currently faces “significant conservation and environmental challenges” and “external pollution and dust accumulation are taking their toll on the collections and the fabric of the Old Library building”. They highlighted “recent fires in similar heritage sites across the globe” as providing “stark warnings” of the need for redevelopment.
Trinity plans to fund the redevelopment using a combination of government funding and philanthropic donations, including from the Inspiring Generations campaign.
The Redevelopment Project also includes the “development of a new state-of-the art Research Collections Study Centre” and “one-of-a-kind immersive exhibition”.