Public Libraries Database


The library is situated in the renovated Market House which was built in 1836 by Viscount John de Vesci. The building was later refurbished (1903-1906) and given an additional storey  by Ivo de Vesci, in honour of his late father. The ground floor continued to be used as a Market House with the Town Hall being situated on the upper floor.

In 1950 Laois County Council took over ownership of the building. The Fire Brigade was installed in the ground floor and a public library was opened on the first floor. 

In 2001, Laois County Council decided to refurbish the Market House as a public library and art gallery and appointed the architectural practice of De Blacam and Meagher to oversee the restoration.

The three stories are serviced by the eye-catching spiral staircase, as well as a lift. The refurbished library boasts 13 new computers as well as a newly expanded book stock of some 25,000 items.

Library Details
Local Authority Name Laois County Council
Library Abbeyleix
Library Name Abbeyleix
Date Opened 11 June 2008
Contact Details
Address Abbeyleix
County Laois
Telephone 057-8730020
Locality & Services
Type of Service Branch library
Type of Building Conversion
Type of Building Converted Market house
Description of Locality Town centre
Urban Population 1568
Stand Alone Facility Yes
Size & Costs
Number of Floors 3
Size (m2) 428
Funding Sources Local Authority, DEHLG
Features & Facilities
Special Features Architectural features
Furnishings and fit-out
Accessibility Assistive technology
Special Facilities OSI historic maps
Internet Access 13 terminals
Wi-Fi Yes
Printing No
Photocopying No
  1. Irish Library News, 283 July 2008, p.2-3
  2. Breathing new life into an old building, Heritage Outlook, Summer/Autumn, 2009. p.32-34.
  3. National Inventory of Architectural Heritage
Architect & Design Team
Architect Name de Blacam and Meagher (2008)
County/City Librarian Laois County Council; Laois County Librarian (2008)
Additional Information

Winner of the best conservation / restoration project in the Irish Architectural Awards for 2009. The judges felt that this scheme met all the main challenges encountered in the repair and reuse of historic buildings, which are – sensitive conservation,  restrained and judicious restoration, and innovative and effective intervention.

Abbeyleix Library won an award in the Heritage Category of the 2009 OPUS Architecture & Construction Awards.

The Judges said…."The rehabilitation of this historic Market House and adjacent public space is an excellent example of restoration and intervention. The original barn roof form to the internal ceiling has been re-integrated back into the new library reading room to great effect. You can even sit beside the fire in an armchair to read a book. The building was buzzing when visited with library patronage increased nine-fold since completion of the project. The successful breaking and re-knotting of historical and contemporary threads has woven a richer and more captivating building tapestry that is now Abbeyleix Library. There is a snug fit between old and new".

Read more about the awards here.

For further information please contact Laois County Council Library Authority


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