Limerick library is an “irritant”, says college president

A MAJOR €20m library is the next project in Mary Immaculate College’s ambitious capital budget plan, president Peadar Cremin said this week.

A MAJOR €20m library is the next project in Mary Immaculate College’s ambitious capital budget plan, president Peadar Cremin said this week.

The college’s library is “completely inadequate” for the college’s needs and is an “irritant” to the student body, he said.

It has a capacity of less than 200 for its 3000 strong student body. It was built in the 1970s, when the student population was at just 750.

“We can’t have more than 190 people in the library at any one time due to health and safety guidelines. We have made a case on this to the Higher Education Authority, who have listened to us sympathetically,” he said.

But there is no commitment from the State to fund the proposed library at present.

Dr Cremin, who is stepping down from the Catholic education institute after 35 years of service, said the recent investment of €40m on two campus projects, Teamhair and Tara, are his proudest achievements.

“I feel I’ve virtually achieved all that I would have liked to achieve when I became president. I’m proudest of the level of achievement in the capital investment programme, because when I became president there hadn’t been any new buildings for a quarter of a century.

“It was imperative at that time that we got investment other we died,” he told the Limerick Leader.

But he warned third-level institutions “can no longer rely on the State for funding”, and said the college is constantly seeking philanthropists prepared to fund college initiatives.

In recent times, the college has bought a number of properties close to the campus on the South Circular Road, some of which were bought during the downturn to be used to develop research centres.

Dr Cremin, a native of Kerry, will retire this August 31. He was the first lay person to be appointed president of the college, after it was run for 101 years by the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. He said he is happy he’s leaving the college “in a very good place.” “In many ways it’s not a job at all, it’s a mission,” he said.

The college employs 500 people full-time and many more part-time, “making it one of the biggest industries” in Limerick city, though it is not often recognised as such, he said.

While the Adare resident has been appointed to chair numerous boards, he says he has no immediate plans for his retirement, but will assess his options again after six months. His successor will be professor Michael A Hayes, 53, a Limerick native at St Mary’s University College Hill in Twickenham, London.

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