Askeaton Library ‘not fit for purpose’ says local councillor

'We have to have a feckin' library': Cllr Kevin Sheahan has been outspoken on his views about the Askeaton Library. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

THE library in Askeaton is too small and needs an upgrade.

That’s the tale Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin Sheahan told this week when the Limerick Post spoke to him in the county’s oldest town.

On a visit to Askeaton Library, situated along the banks of the River Deel, Cllr Sheahan, who has been a public representative for 39 years, was keen to press the need for a new public library.

“We still have ivy coming in the windows and this library is far too small,” he told this reporter as we entered the building.

“We have documentation that says what libraries are supposed to be in this decade, in this century, and this library is not fit for purpose.”

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Cllr Sheahan declared further that the library was especially unsuitable for disabled people.

“Last year we had a man in a wheelchair who had to get out of his chair and come up the steps on his bottom. His carer brought the wheelchair up and put him back in it so he could have a look around. It is scandalous,” Cllr Sheahan fumed.

The former Limerick Mayor, a native of Askeaton, wants to see plans in place for a new public library before he closes his own story on four decades in public life next June.

“This was Carnegie Library, it was a treasure in its day, but now it is a shambles,” he said.

“I heard councillors complementing the county librarian at a meeting recently about Kilmallock and Newcastle West. I lost the head and said ‘how many years am I asking for a library?’

“I have been 15 years nominated by my fellow councillors to be their representative with the Library Association and I don’t even get a Christmas card, don’t mind a communication about libraries. I am told nothing. I represent all the councillors and I am ignored,” Cllr Sheahan claimed.

Earlier this year, the Fianna Fáil man lobbied for a new library at the former Bank of Ireland building in Askeaton. He told the council executive in April that the local community are anxious to see the building given over for community use.

“I lobbied straight away for a library. There was other people in the community that wanted it for other purposes and I said ‘no, we have to have a feckin’ library’. It is a necessity in the community.

“A consultant gave them a report that it wasn’t suitable to build one here because it floods out there. It doesn’t flood up here. You can build anything. There would be nothing anyplace if you were restricted by seasonal flooding up on the road, which lasts for a maximum of three quarters of an hour — tide in, tide out. It happens three or four times a year, I know it is happening too often, and we would rather it didn’t happen, but it’s a lame excuse.

“They have not pushed the Department the way they should be pushing it, if you really want to get the money. Askeaton pays the Council’s wages out of the water charges in Aughinish, the rates in Aughinish, and the rates in Wyeth,” he insisted.