Killarney may get small theatre ending seven-year wait

Killarney’s seven-year wait for a small theatre and performance venue may be close to a curtain call.

Consultants are to be appointed to conduct a survey of the likely use of a disused standalone building, donated by the Franciscan Friars.

They handed over the strange-looking building, known as Áras Phádraig, to the then town council in 2009.

It is surrounded by car parks and is just off the main College Street/Fair Hill confluence.

The order’s only stipulation was that the building would be used for the benefit of the community.

However, there the matter rested for a variety of reasons, including legal and bureaucratic hold-ups.

The town centre has no small theatre or concert hall, despite a historic appetite for plays and performance and continuous requests from visiting groups.

At one point, when a new courthouse was being mooted, the existing courthouse with its tiered seating and an overhead balcony was being put forward as a natural small theatre.

During its lifetime, however, Áras Phádraig was used for politics as well as for plays, 1970s hops, socials, tae kwon do, and even the occasional rock concert from the late 1960s to the closure of the main hall.

One of its final acts was the 2009 local election count. It has also been used by the Blood Transfusion Service.

Now, Kerry County Council has invited consultants to find out what exactly the building is most suited to and what is most needed in the town.

A feasibility study and a business plan to assess the potential future use of the building is part of the initial plan.

“There is significant local and community interest in the redevelopment and revival of the Áras Phádraig building in Killarney town as it is seen as an important part of the town’s community and social infrastructure,” said Niamh O’Sullivan, head of the county council’s community department.

Councillor Michael Gleeson has already called for the use of the building as a small theatre.

The town centre has no small theatre or concert hall, he said, and further suggested “daytime use” should be identified to ensure the building is financially sustainable. He recalled, at one point, the courthouse was being mooted as a theatre in the top tourist town.

Tenders for the consultancy phase will be assessed the week beginning September 26, with the council engaging with various groups.

The council anticipates matters will progress swiftly after the appointment of consultants.


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