Leonard Daly, Commercial Director with Mythen Construction gives an insight into the historical and exciting project that is the conservation of the previously known Evan’s Almshouse and the relocation of the Kilkenny Butler Gallery.
Established in 1994, Mythen Construction Limited has grown to become a nationally recognised Main Contractor having successfully completed hundreds of projects across all ranges of the Construction Industry in both the Public and Private Sector with values ranging from €250,000.00 to €30 Million.
The long neglected Evan’s Home building in County Kilkenny, a former Church of Ireland almshouse, is getting a new lease of life. This historic listed building was founded in 1818 and previously known as Evan’s Almshouse (Evan’s Asylum). It has languished vacant for some years. Kilkenny County Council as the client wanted to develop a cultural quarter in the heart of Kilkenny City. It was envisaged to relocate the Butler Gallery into this historic property. Kilkenny County Council put forth a public procurement request on ETender, and Mythen Construction Ltd won the tender competition.
It was known that this was going to be an exciting project when the archaeology team found trinkets and two full skeletons inside the building and 148 individual remains were found outside under Barrack Lane. The burials date back to the 13th or early 14th century. Barrack Lane formed part of the original cemetery of St John’s Priory which dates back to the 1240s.
In addition to the historic finds, the conservation and restoration of the building is paramount to the client. In this respect, Mythen Construction Ltd excelled in complying with the specifications and current guidelines for the likes of re-roofing works, building fabric restoration, stone replacement and re-pointing and, sash window restoration. Mythen Construction have recently completed stone conservation and re-pointing and the roof is completely restored.
A new contemporary extension has been connected to the listed building. The extension is located adjacent to the River Nore. Therefore, an augur piling solution was required to meet the challenging ground conditions.
The marrying of the new contemporary building to the existing building, with its intricate details, created challenges to the build process which Mythen Construction successfully overcame.
The Butler Gallery relocation will create an entirely new type of place for art in Ireland, which incorporates both the original Evan’s Home, a large historic building which is currently derelict, and will be carefully conserved alongside the small new extension. It will support a range of art forms including the Butler Permanent Collection, the Tony O’Malley Collection, and a gallery for major temporary exhibitions. The new Butler Gallery will also house an interpretative centre, telling the story of the residents and the findings on site.
The new art space will also include Evan’s garden where sculpture and archaeology can be displayed. The Butler Gallery will be operated by Kilkenny Arts Society Ltd which has been in existence since the 1940s. It currently operates the Butler Gallery in a much reduced space in the basement of Kilkenny Castle.
Over time, the Butler Art Gallery will facilitate artist studios and fully house their Education and Community Outreach Programmes. In doing so, Mythen will be bringing back to life a building and site that has remained largely empty for many years, imbuing it with a renewed energy and dynamism.
It won’t be long now before Kilkenny has a wonderful Art Gallery; with a building rich in history.
Additional information and pictures from the project so far can be found below;