The new, €5m Butler Gallery is one of the first visitor attractions in the country to benefit from a Failte Ireland, Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects.
Minister for State at the Department of Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin made the announcement and turned the sod to commence the development of the former Evans Home just off John Street in Kilkenny City.
Minister Brendan Griffin, Minister John Paul Phelan, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny David Fitzgerald, Jenny DeSaulles, Flan Quilligan, Failte Ireland and Chief Executive of Kilkenny Co Co Colette Byrne.
The project is funded to the tune of €1.12m from Failte Ireland, with the remaining of the build almost split between Kilkenny County Council and the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Evan’s Home was a former Church of Ireland almshouse, and the new Butler Gallery will also house an interpretative centre, telling the story of the residents.
“This kind of investment is absolutely critical in ensuring that Ireland’s tourist attractions are world-class and I know that the funding announced today will be a major boost for Kilkenny,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, TD Brendan Griffin.
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 a 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 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.