Following the recent signing of contracts, Mayo County Council confirmed this week that construction of the Mary Robinson Centre in Ballina has a commencement date of Thursday December 5.
The project entails the conservation and refurbishment of the original Robinson family home with a contemporary new-build extension. The project is located on Emmet Street, overlooking the world-famous River Moy and on to St Muredach's Cathedral on the opposite bank.
When completed, the centre will include a museum, archive, research and educational facility and events venue. The contract, which Mayo County Council signed with LPB Construction Services, to the value of €3.10 million, is expected to be completed in 2021.
Welcoming the progress on the project, council chief executive, Peter Hynes, said the introduction of the nation’s first presidential library was “great for County Mayo,” adding that the project will “honour the legacy of our country’s first female president and inspire future generations to realise their potential."
Mary Robinson is world renowned for her contribution to discourse on human rights, gender equality, and climate change. This initiative sees Mayo County Council partner with NUI Galway to provide the public with access to her prodigious archive as well as to papers arising from her ongoing work, which she has gifted to the museum.
Mayo County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Brendan Mulroy, said the centre will be a "fantastic resource for researchers and visitors alike that will greatly benefit the local area and provide a boost to the tourism economy of Ballina and the north Mayo region, another emerging jewel in the Mayo crown.”
Deputy Dara Calleary has welcomed the announcement that work is to commence on the centre saying: "This project has massive potential for Ballina and north Mayo as both a centre of academic learning and as a tourism attraction. I welcome notice that works are to begin on the restoration of Victoria House and look forward to the completion of works being carried out in a timely manner."
Fine Gael Ballina based Senator Michelle Mulherin also welcomed the news, saying: "This is fabulous news for Ballina. The Mary Robinson Centre will provide Ballina and the surrounding region with a museum, archive, and educational resource of major international renown and will attract many visitors to Ballina. It will also provide a boost to the construction sector as the building work progresses."
The establishment of the Mary Robinson Centre will complement and reinforce the town’s existing cultural suite of civic projects, including the Jackie Clarke Centre, the Ballina Theatre and Arts Centre, and the soon-to-be-realised Ballina Military Barracks Quarter.