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Leinster Leader 30/08/1975
Duke parts with Town Hall
         Big news for Athy this week was the purchase by Kildare Co. Council of the Town Hall for £9,000 from the Duke of Leinster. Although the building is in rundown condition, it is considered a bargain at the price and the Council is anxious to restore it as a community centre.
The imposing Georgian building was described by County Architect Mr. Niall Meagher this week as forming the nucleus of Emily Sq., and he considered its acquisition a great breakthrough for Athy. Ownership by the Council gives encouragement to imaginative re-furbishing for use by the people.
Negotiations to acquire it have been pursued over several years without success, and the decision to preserve it for aesthetic and amenity reasons met with scepticism in some quarters. At this week’s meeting of Kildare Co. Council news of the purchase was welcomed and Dail Deputy Joe Bermingham responded speedily by proposing approval, readily given.
Mr. Meagher comments that the building is a very important one in Athy, forming a nucleus in the heart of the town, and an imposing backdrop to two sides of the square. Its removal would have been a disaster, in his opinion. He told our reporter that he had inspected the building in recent years and found it fundamentally in very good condition, with sound roof timbers, walls, etc.
The building would have been an ideal subject as an entry for Architectural Heritage Year, if renovated, but the Council had understandably been reluctant to spend money on it while not the owners. It would be surveyed, and being so well situated, it would lend itself to varied uses in the public interest. In an old publication the Town Hall is referred to as having been the County Courthouse, built some time after 1740. In the town plan it is described as being a Georgian building whose façade forms a terminal feature, viewed from Stanhope St., and contributes to the formation of Emily Square.
The three-storey building provided Macra na Feirme with its first national H.Q. (one room) and also houses Athy UDC, the fire-brigade, and caretakers accommodation. The Masonic Order had a meeting place on the top story and the former ballroom and supper room were leased for some years to Revlon, lady’s foundation garments manufacturers. The fire brigade now occupies the ground floor section which formerly was known as the butter market.

Leinster Leader of August 1975 reports on sale of Athy Town Hall to Kildare County Council for £9,000. 


[compiled and edited byt Niamh McCabe]


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