Soil problem at site of new Portlaoise library in Laois

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan


New Portlaoise library construction about to begin

An image of the planned new library in Portlaoise, created by CIS Ireland

Following a month long holdup due to Covid-19 restrictions, another delay has hit the construction of Portlaoise library.

The library is on the site of the old Shaws shop on the Main Street, which was demolished last spring ahead of construction of a new state of the art €5 million county library.

Read: Minister to turn sod on Portlaoise library site

Now the condition of the soil under the building is a cause for delay. An update was given to the July meeting of Laois County Council.

“Works on the new library have recommenced since Covid-19 restrictions. Demolitions and asbestos removal have been completed. 

“Prior to the main construction commencing there is a requirement for additional site investigations and excavations due to issues with the subsoil of the site. Works on the foundation are due to commence once these additional subsoil issues have been addressed,” the library department reported.

The library is hoped to be open by December 2021. It is designed by Portlaoise architects MCoH (McCarthy O’Hora) and the building contractor is Frank C Murray Construction. The 16,000 sq ft facility will offer library services and an exhibition area, study, IT section and a community meeting room. The development is expected to restore footfall to the Main Street, lost after town centre schools moved out.  

The council also report that the plan for a Open Library for Portarlington has been delayed until later in 2020, due to Covid-19 and national health advice.

All Laois libraries closed fully to the public last March, but are now reopened for a ‘call and collect’ service, following careful social distancing rules.

Additionally Portlaoise and Portarlington can be visited by appointment. Mountmellick library will open for this service on August 4. 

The number of online users reading Ebooks doubled during Covid, with 1,500 new remote readers, and a 500% increase in usage.

Below: the site during the demolition of Shaw's shop.