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Plans for Westport convent site revealed


PLANS UNVEILED Mayo County Council plan to develop the old schoolhouse on the Convent of Mercy site in Westport to contain civic offices and a library. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Anton McNulty

PLANS for a new library and civic offices on part of the Convent of Mercy site in Westport were revealed to local councillors last Friday.
The outline plan includes converting the old three-storey schoolhouse building on the site on Altamont Street into Mayo County Council civic offices, as well as the construction of a new library to the side of the building, facing towards the street.
Local councillors were informed of the plans and shown the proposed 3D architectural designs at a special workshop on Friday last, September 13.
Local councillor Christy Hyland welcomed the news. “As the Cathaoirleach of the West Mayo Municipal District, I welcome that Mayo County Council are looking to develop the [schoolhouse] building and will incorporate a new library and civic offices. I have been pushing for this for a long time now, and it is good to see some progress on the matter. I must commend the architects involved in the design, and hopefully the project will be able to go to planning in November,” he said.
While no timeframe has been put on the project, Cllr Hyland said he envisaged that it may take another 18 months before the planning process is completed and funding is secured.
No plans were outlined for the rest of the convent site, which was purchased by Mayo County Council in 2008 for €4 million. The convent buildings have since fallen into disrepair in recent years and have attracted vandals and anti-social behaviour.
The only significant change occurred in October 2017, when the outside of the old schoolhouse building was externally transformed by a large-scale mural by renowned artist Maser as part of that year’s Westport Arts Festival (since renamed Westival).
Cllr Peter Flynn, who has been critical of the lack of progress with the convent site’s development, said he was ‘hugely impressed’ with the outline plan for the building.
“In my opinion this will transform this side of town and will make this whole site a truly integrated part of the town. The final design is due to be completed in the coming weeks with the planning process to commence before November. Huge credit must go to the Council architects for their vision while recognising the history and significance of the site,” he wrote on his Facebook page.