Fire-damaged Briery Gap may not re-open until 2019

One of the most iconic theatre venues in the south of the country may not re-open until December 2019.

Fire-damaged Briery Gap may not re-open until 2019

Concerns have been raised about the period of time it will take to get the Briery Gap in Macroom, Co Cork, back up and running after a devastating fire which ripped through the building in May last year.

The public-owned building housed a theatre and public library and had undergone major refurbishment in 2013.

Cork County Council, who managed the building along with a local board of management, was forced to concede to elected members an insurance claim had not yet been resolved.

Macroom-based councillor Ted Lucey said he appreciates there was a lot of damage caused to the building by the fire, but said progress on getting it re-opened was “very slow”.

The delays in restoring the site, he said, was a “great disappointment” to people who have enjoyed the facility for many years, not just from Macroom, but all over Munster.

He made his comments after getting an update from council officials at a meeting of the Blarney/Macroom Municipal District Council.

Officials outlined an estimated timeline for different parts of the redevelopment.

The council hopes to appoint a preliminary design team towards the end of February next, seek planning permission in May and commence construction in 2019.

Cllr Lucey was told that it could be December 2019 at the earliest that construction would be completed.

He urged officials to try and speed up the process, having the building completed in time for it to host the Christmas panto season.

Officials promised they would try to do that and would issue quarterly bulletins on progress from next year.

“The Briery Gap has played a very central role in the life of the town for many years and it is really missed,” councillor Gobnait Moynihan told her fellow councillors. “We need to keep the pressure on for this work to be completed faster.”

Councillor Michael Creed said he was aware of the extensive damage but said the proposed council timeline was still lengthy.

He disclosed to the meeting that he believed an insurance claim had not been sorted out.

Officials admitted that was true but said it was being worked on.

“You don’t miss something until it’s gone,” said councillor Des O’Grady.

“I’m worried about the insurance issue. Surely that has to be sorted out first before any work can be done.”

Municipal district chairman Kevin Conway also said it was vital that progress was made as quickly as possible.

“There’s great history involved in that building,” said Mr Conway. “The Briery Gap was a mainstay in the south of Ireland for acting and theatre.”

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