The Connolly Barracks: a new urban HUB to drive the city and the territory. The former military heritage as a driver to provide the link to the heritage and history of the town, improves the physical connections in the area, and provide a social dividend for the people of Longford.
The city challenges / As with much of the rest of Ireland, Longford experienced a significant recession, beginning in 2008. At this time, Longford had been largely dependent on the construction industry for employment. This sector collapsed overnight, leaving large numbers of people within the town unemployed. Prior to that date, Longford had not attracted the same level of high street retailers or industry into the town, when compared to towns of a similar scale elsewhere. In fact, just as the recession hit, a large shopping centre was completed but never opened.
This building adjoins Connolly Barracks, which also closed in 2009. These two large empty sites have scarred the landscape at the northern end of Longford Town and led to further deterioration in this area of the town. As Ireland has begun to come out of the recession over the last number of years and experience positive growth again, Longford has not experienced this to the same extent and continues to have high unemployment levels and high vacancy levels.
Longford Town also had a high number of non-Irish nationals resident within the town, with the 2016 census showing that approximately 10% of the population are of Polish nationality and approximately 3,000 of the 10,008 total originating from countries outside Ireland. One of the secondary schools within the town has 40 different nationalities represented among its students. One of the challenges facing the town is to ensure the integration of these many different nationalities into the Longford community.
The people of Longford do not recognise the potential that lies on their doorstep, with fine architecture and history and the fabulous River Camlin running through it, which the town has largely turned its back on and not recognised the potential of opening up the river.
From the challenges to the re-use / Following the closure of Connolly Barracks in 2009, Longford County Council bought a large portion of the site, as it was recognised by the Municipality as a site of strategic importance to the town, the regeneration of which could act as an economic driver for the remainder of the town.
However, due to the condition of the site, it has also led to challenges in identifying the appropriate use for the site. A number of temporary uses are maintained within the site, engaging people on the site and keeping an interest in the site. However, while such uses are useful for the continued engagement and identifying potential reuses, there is need for greater clarity on the future of the site, both to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the building but also within the minds of the citizens of Longford, so that they can see the positive change in their town and become proud again of this area, as it is currently seen as a negative legacy on the town.
Until progress is made on the regeneration of the Northern Quarter, it is difficult for the people of Longford to move on from the recession and the effect it had on the town. Since the purchase of the site, Longford County Council has worked with a number of different bodies to identify ways to bring Connolly Barracks back into use at the heart of the town. The primary objectives identified for Connolly Barracks are that Connolly Barracks:
- Act as an economic driver for the Northern Quarter and the wider town region.
- Provide a social dividend for the people of Longford, which will provide a link to the heritage and history of the town.
- Improves the physical connections in the area, opening it up to a wider audience.
IAP Longford exhibition posters / Download the PDF version (medium quality)
IAP Longford exhibition posters / Download the PDF version (high quality)
IAP Longford PowerPoint presentation / Download the PPT version
IAP Longford – Connolly Barracks / Download the PDF version