It would be a crying shame and a frightful mark of indifference and neglect against the present generation of Castleisland residents if we let the ‘Old Library’ fall into disrepair.
After all the struggles this noble, old building has been through, its demise has been greatly sped-up by the recent, hurricane-force winds.
Redmond Roche, who lives across the road from the building, had the proverbial ring-side view of the damage the winds inflicted as they lifted up to a dozen slates from their laths.
What was more frightening – according to Redmond – was the way the winds flapped the remaining, anchored slates like leaves.
“I know Kerry County Council put out bollards along the footpath but I’m afraid that any loosened slates could still come down at any time. Parents who collect their children from Gaelscoil Aogain often park along the footpath there and it’s right in the firing line if the slates came down,” Redmond warned.
“Apart from that it’s a shame to see the building running into disrepair – though the Badminton club still uses it for games and training,” said Redmond.
After operating for 79 years in this building at the top of the town, the Castleisland Library service moved to the bottom of the town in August 2008. There, it took up residence in the new Castleisland Area Services Centre on Station Road.
The existing library closed its doors at 5pm on Wednesday, August 13th-2008 and the facility opened in the Area Services Centre at 10am on Wednesday, August 27th.
The original Castleisland Library building was completed in December 1914, grant aided by the Carnegie Trust. However, owing to difficulties, the library didn’t open until July 1920, with Kitty Cahill appointed acting librarian and caretaker to over 400 books.
The library burned down in late Autumn 1920, with the present building opening as a library in 1929. Kitty Downey replaced Miss Cahill as librarian in 1948 and she served on her own as librarian until her retirement in January 1993.
After Kitty’s retirement the duties of librarian at Castleisland were shared between Eileen Murphy and Lucy Kerins.
The new 490 sq. metre ‘Area Services Centre’ is fully accessible and was funded by Kerry County Council and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
Opening hours are from 10am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday, including lunchtime opening. The number of books in the centre have been greatly increased from the previous library. Needless to say, at the time of losing its status as ‘The Library’ there were all kinds of suggestions of possible uses for the historic building – but all evaporated.
There was a further and equally ignominious blow in store for the building when the District Court Service abandoned Castleisland in favour of centralisation of the service in Tralee just three days before Christmas 2011.
Now it has fallen to a concerned neighbour, Redmond Roche to appeal for action on the grounds of the omnipresent ‘Health & Safety’ issues.
Local representative, Cllr. Bobby O’Connell (FG) said that he’s asking Kerry County Council to regard repair works on the building as a matter of urgency.
“As one of our outstanding and historic building in the town it can’t be left fall into disrepair and I’m calling on the council to act on it immediately on safety grounds alone,” said Cllr. O’Connell.
However, Cllr. O’Connell said that any future plans for the spacious buildings were “up in the air at the moment – but the present situation there might get someting going.”