Limerick's Rugby Experience goes on international display at Venice Biennale

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts


The International Rugby Experience on display at the Venice Biennale

The International Rugby Experience on display at the Venice Biennale

IT’s not even been constructed yet, but already architectural designs of the International Rugby Experience are to go on display at a world-famous festival.

Design of what is hoped will become an iconic attraction in the heart of O’Connell Street, are to be showcased at the Venice Biennale exhibition later this month.

Founded in 1885, the Venice Biennale hosts pavilions from across the world, and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year who feast their eyes on some of the world’s most groundbreaking modern design.

And among those is the work of internationally renowned architect Niall McLaughlin, who has designed the rugby museum, which is being promoted by Munster legend Paul O’Connell and JP McManus.

The inclusion in the exhibition is being hailed as a "huge honour both for Niall McLaughlin, and the city of Limerick".

The multi-million euro visitor experience will take place at 40-42 O’Connell Street, delivering up to 100 construction jobs, as well as many more permanent positions.

The ambitions plans will fill a high-tech 30,000 square foot exhibition space, and will bring together dramatic 4D interactive galleries and exhibits celebrating historic moments from the history of rugby.

The blueprint – funded by an initial €10m JP McManus investment – will see the demolition of numbers 40 and 41 O’Connell Street, as well as the knocking of the first three floors at the neighbouring building. Number One Cecil Street will also make way for the development.

In their place, there will be a seven-storey buiding, with a two-storey portico fronting O’Connell Street, and a two-storey block to the rear.

There will be a three storey block built over the existing Fine’s Jewellers business at the junction of O’Connell Street and Cecil Street.

Inside, the development will see “a multi-media visitor experience, exhibition and education space” plus retail and cafe at ground floor level, according to the planning application.

Although Limerick City and County Council has given the green light to the €10m project, an An Taisce objection meant it was referred to An Bord Pleanala.

The national appeals body is yet to rule on the plan. It’s hoped that the museum will open by early 2019.