Fire-damaged theatre may not reopen for 2 years

It could be two years before an iconic arts centre in mid-Cork reopens it doors following a devastating fire.

The Briery Gap in Macroom, which housed a theatre and public library, was extensively damaged in a fire last May.

The building underwent major refurbishment in 2013 and has been jointly run by Cork County Council and a local board of management.

County council officials have said there was a lot of work to be done to get the building reopened, and that it could take two years.

They were replying to queries from Macroom-based Councillor Ted Lucey, who asked what was happening with the building and the public library inside it.

Officials said that they are in negotiations with a local property owner to take a lease on a building in the town’s main street, which will house a temporary replacement library until the Briery Gap is renovated.

They said every effort was being made to finalise these negotiations as soon as possible and once the building was properly decked-out and stocked with books, it would open to the public on a full-time basis.

Council officials said they met recently with members of the Briery Gap board of management who had asked for assistance from the county architect’s department in redesigning the interior of the gutted building.

The architect’s department is currently surveying the building because it is hoped that new plans will provide more space for the theatre and the library.

It is envisaged that within the next couple of weeks initial designs will be completed, but there is no timeframe as of yet on when the final drawings will be ready.

Officials said they would provide councillors with an update on progress at a municipal district council meeting next month.

Mr Lucey said the Briery Gap was “the heartbeat of the town” and it was important that it was reopened as quickly as possible.

He said it was the first time in living memory that the people of mid-Cork wouldn’t be able to attend a Christmas panto there.

Cllr Michael Creed also said it was important that work start on refurbishing the building as soon as possible. He asked if there was a problem with insurance and was told there wasn’t, as the council had insurance for the building and the Briery Gap board of management had separate insurance for contents.


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