Kevin Street Library – Canvas of Light – Dervilla Masterson


Light is something we all take for granted, but once captured it offers a new dimension to how we see things, and the spaces we inhabit.  Kevin Street Library is about many things but primarily about the light.

nikolai‘The exact moment I understood why Betsy was I love with Slievemore’ by John Michael Nikolai

We happened to stay on probably one of the dullest weeks of the summer in Achill this year.  Even so the light in Achill never ceases to inspire and astound. At dinner one night on the island I admired a photograph on the wall, but quickly dismissed it as being a‘fake’,  it was too Dali-esque to be real. It so happens that the next day I was strolling along the beach in Keel and happened upon a tiny piece of heaven with a white picket fence and sky blue windows, the studio of John Michael Nikolai, an American artist who loves Achill, and the light.

At the same time during the summer Kevin Street Library was shrouded in scaffolding internally and externally. Clancy Construction were carrying out the remedial works to the external envelope of the building. The raking out of the joints had been completed and the new repair works to the bricks and the sandstone crests were underway. It was painstaking, meticulous work was carried out by Oldstone Conservation Ltd.



Crest prior to restoration             


Building up new sections of crest


Finishing touches on the new crest


Completed crest detail


Completed ‘Public Library’ detail

The salvaged slates were re-instated on the front apex roof and complimentary blue Bangor slates were used on the rear lantern roofs. The original ladder framed clerestory windows were carefully stripped back and restored including the original winding mechanisms





Clerestory galzing prior to restoration


restored brass and steel winder


clerestory glazing after restoration 



Completed roof works

Works to date have been overseen on site by Casey O’ Rourke Associates Ltd who acted as Lead Designer on the Phase 1 of the project, with additional conservation input from City Architects Division.

And now finally in the latter part of the year the scaffolding has been removed internally to capture the light again within 4 no. interconnecting spaces. We are starting now with a blank canvas, to commence Phase 2 of the internal refurbishment of the Library.


Roof under construction



Competed roof works


Competed roof works with restored cupola


 Image of one internal space

See also our post from April about the restoration of the library’s cupola