A state-of-the-art sports centre part funded by American billionaire Chuck Feeney was officially opened today at Trinity College Dublin.
The €30m complex, which includes a 25m swimming pool with a floating floor and a dramatic 19m high climbing wall visible from the road, will be open to students, staff and graduates.
The local community in the south inner city is also being encouraged to use the facilities and schools in the area are being invited to use the sports hall on a weekly basis.
The centre has been open for use for around a year before today's official launch.
Mr Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies invested €9m in the facility while Trinity students raised a staggering €4m in five years from 1998 through an annual levy.
Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism Seamus Brennan officially opened the new facilities and said they would be hugely important for university life.
“Sport and recreation play a hugely important role in university life and never more so than in today’s hectic environment,” he said.
“The value of sport to the nation simply cannot be over-emphasised, in raising our health levels, in helping to give us a sense of ourselves and in boosting our morale.”
The centre is housed in a modern glass fronted building at the corner of Pearse Street and Westland Row.
The 25m pool has a state-of-the-art floating floor allowing depth changes for deep water sports such as scuba diving and water polo while there is also a hydraulic lift for full disabled access.
The 19m climbing wall offers passers-by dramatic views from Westland Row and is visible for almost the entire height of the building.
The complex also houses two large halls for ball sports and martial arts; a fitness theatre; an aerobic and dance studio; a sauna and steam room and relaxation and treatment rooms for physiotherapy and massage.
Trinity Provost Dr John Hegarty said all students will now have a chance to take part in sport.
“This newly built Sports Centre provides all of Trinity’s students with an opportunity and incentive to participate in recreation and sports activities in a magnificent environment,” Dr Hegarty said.
Dr Hegarty said the College’s 50 sports clubs would be able to make use of the excellent facilities to train and as a venue to host intervarsity competitions and national events.
Trinity has already welcomed a number of events to the centre this year including the Irish Intervarsity Water Polo Championships, the National Fencing Championships and the British and Irish Intervarsity Boxing Tournament.