Frequently Asked Questions

View of Parnell Monument and Parnell Square East. Image © Dublin City Council

View of Parnell Monument and Parnell Square East. Image © Dublin City Council

What is a Cultural Quarter?

“A cultural quarter is a geographical area of a large town or city which acts as a focus for cultural and artistic activities through the presence of a group of buildings devoted to housing a range of such activities, and purpose designed or adapted spaces to create a sense of identity, providing an environment to facilitate and encourage the provision of cultural and artistic services and activities.”

Roodhouse, Simon (2010), Cultural Quarters, Principles and Practice, Bristol, UK; University of Chicago Press:  Intellect Books, p.24

It is an objective of Dublin City Council to support the development of a cultural quarter around Parnell Square, encouraging a vibrant area in which to work and live while having regard to the grain and historic character of the area.

Where will the new City Library be?

The new City Library will be at the former Coláiste Mhuire site, numbers 23 to 28, on the north side of Parnell Square. This site consists of six inter-connected Georgian houses and a large site to the rear, which will allow for a new build facilitating the development of a contemporary library space. Parnell Square North is on an elevated site, just north of O’Connell Street, with views south across the city.

What other cultural spaces will be created alongside the City Library and the existing Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane?

An estimated 3500m2 of space for cultural uses will be delivered by this project. The total physical space for development is at the former Coláiste Mhuire site (numbers 23 to 28), and at house numbers 20 and 21, flanking Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.

These new cultural spaces will provide:

A Cultural Quarter Education Centre to accommodate classes, groups and lectures, providing high quality studio type space for ‘making’ activities, available for use by all the Cultural Quarter institutions.

A Music Centre offering a space for music and spoken word performance, recording, rehearsal and creation,

A Design Space encouraging the use of design as a resource for economic development, facilitating designers in the development of innovative design enterprises or projects and assisting businesses in using design for innovation, product and service development, branding and communication. It will provide a platform for engaging with emerging trends and research in design thinking and practice. It will promote Dublin and Ireland’s design industries to domestic and overseas markets.

When will the new buildings open?

The target opening date is 2023.

How big will the City Library be?

The City Library will be approximately 8000m2 in size, which will be over three times the floor size of the current Central Library in the Ilac Shopping Centre.

Who will the City Library be for?

The City Library will be for everyone. It will be designed to welcome, inspire, excite and include. It will be a place of which Dubliners can be proud. It will be an exciting new destination for learning, literature, information and culture. The library will welcome an estimated 3,000 visitors each day, up to 1 million per year, and will be designed to endure and inspire for many years to come.

Will the City Library and Parnell Square Cultural Quarter buildings be accessible for all?

Dublin City Council is committed to the principle that all projects undertaken can be accessed, understood and will appeal to all, regardless of age, size, disability or ability. The design team for this project is required to include qualified expertise in access design and our brief requires the building to meet the seven principles of Universal Design.

Will there be quiet space where I can study?

Yes, our library brief sets out a requirement for at least 100 individual quiet study seats throughout the new City Library. Other seating will be at group study tables and in workspace and soft seating areas. We hope to provide places for 1,000 people to read, research, reflect and learn.

How is the proposed City Library going to be different from existing libraries in the city?

The 21st century Dublin City Library at Parnell Square will not be like any other library in Dublin. The City Library will not be a branch library. It will serve local and civic communities, but with an outward national and international reach.

It will mirror best contemporary international practice which sees City libraries as cultural brokers, building partnerships and relationships and mediating collaborative models of service delivery including shared spaces, co-locations, and fusion spaces.

The Dublin City Library will expand the traditional mold with offers such as an Innovation/Enterprise Hub, Storyhouse for writers and readers, a Music Centre and a Digital Library.

How is the Project being managed?

Parnell Square Foundation was established to raise funds and finance the Project which is being developed by PSQ Developments Ltd. , a wholly owned subsidiary of Parnell Square Foundation.

Kennedy Wilson has agreed to provide seed capital to Parnell Square Foundation on a philanthropic basis and assist PSQ Developments Ltd. pro bono with the development. Kennedy Wilson will also lead further required fund raising.

For further information about the company please visit

Why Parnell Square? Why not the Central Bank site or O’Connell Street?

A site selection process was carried out, looking at sites in the four quadrants of the City. The ability of sites to inspire and excite, welcome and include were set as key markers together with critical selection criteria including size and availability of sites, accessibility and transport links, complementary educational and cultural uses, footfall and permeability of area by local and wider population and proximity of diverse residential units.

This is an opportunity to create a new civic presence and a destination building.  Most successful international libraries are located at urban hubs, close to public transport with adequate outdoor space associated. Street level access is key, with libraries that are transparent and open, capable of engaging their communities.

Why a Library at Parnell Square? Why not an extension to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane?

Opportunities exist to develop synergies and programming between the worlds of Art, Literature and Learning. It is the policy of Dublin City Council, as outlined in the Dublin City Development Plan 2011 – 2017:

“FC8 To facilitate the provision of fit for-purpose, sustainable cultural infrastructure such as museums, libraries, theatres, exhibition spaces, cinemas, music venues, in the city centre, suitable for all ages and accessible to all living, working or visiting the city and which reflect the role of Dublin as the capital city.”

The need for a new City Library is articulated in What is the stars? A Development Plan for Dublin City Public Libraries, 2012 – 2016:

“The establishment of a 21st century city library for Dublin is the key civic infrastructural objective for the capital city in the lifetime of this development plan. This objective was identified in the Programme for Library Development 1996   – 2001, in Dublin: A City of Possibilities 2000 – 2012 and also included in The Arts and Cultural Strategy 2004, adopted by Dublin City Council. It was likewise highlighted in the city’s successful bid for designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.    The establishment of the Dublin city library will represent the third point in Dublin City Public Libraries’ triangular campus management model, providing for the key elements of literature and learning, music and information services.”

Which nearby library can I use until the City Library opens?

The nearest public library to Parnell Square is the Central Library in the Ilac Shopping Centre, off Henry Street.

For directions and services please visit

How can I get to Parnell Square?

There are Dublinbikes stations throughout the city, and Station 30 is on Parnell Square North, outside the Coláiste Mhuire buildings, next to Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. For a map of stations see the Dublinbikes website at


Dublin Bus routes to Parnell Square include:     1, 11, 4, 7, 7b, 7d, 8, 9, 13, 16, 38, 38a, 38b,  40, 40b, 40d, 44, 46a, 46e, 120, 122, 140. For more information about these routes please check


The nearest Luas Red Line stops are at Jervis or Abbey. The new cross city Luas tramline, due for completion in 2017, will run south of Parnell Square with a Parnell Stop and a stop on nearby Dominick Street. Information about Luas services is available on their website at