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Glor Irish Music Centre

  • Architect:
    Gilroy McMahon Architects
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2002
  • Location: Munster
Glor Irish Music Centre


Western (over €3,000,000)

The challenge of the building was significant, balancing technical acoustic requirements, versatility and the need to accommodate large numbers with an essential intimacy. Sophisticated understanding of the manipulation of space and the use of materials responds to the brief with particular success.

Architects Comment

Glór is generated primarily by its unique spatial requirements. The centres location in Ennis, Co Clare, anchors it particularly to the Irish tradition. That immediately puts the emphasis on the informal rather than the formal, on spontaneity, ease of access and on the erosion of the boundaries between the music maker and the listener. In contrast there is an equally serious formal requirement. It is a national institute. It includes a major auditorium and all the associated sophisticated technology and standard of acoustic performance. The juxtaposition of spaces and their architectural expression is about encapsulating those two differing body languages and reconciling their somewhat opposing requirements.

The building organisation synthesises these contrasts around a central undulating hall. Tall airy and awash with light, this hall is the spine of the building. Off the spine are intimately scaled interconnecting social spaces finished in warm colours and furnishing for the impromptu. Opposite are the auditorium and stage back-up furnished and finished to more structured geometries for formal activity. The auditorium is shaped for both acoustic efficiency and to allow comfortable eye contact between performance and audience.

Client Comments
Glor Irish Music Centre is a wonderful building. As Director of Glór, I have been directly involved in the conception, design and construction of the building.

The challenge for the architect was to create a building which would allow the user to experience Irish music in an intimate and real way, whether in a small group or as a member of a large audience. The performance of Irish music has evolved from the fireside to the pub and then to large auditoria. In designing Glór, the architect was required to create an intimate space where the audience and the performer are physically and acoustically close to each other. Furthermore, he was required to create a space, which was open and inviting to a diverse audience, from musicians, actors and dancers and artists to international tourists and local communities.

A beautiful building has been created where public space, audience intimacy, function and use are carefully balanced. The artists who perform in Glór love the attention to detail in the technical specification and the performance spaces. They feel close to their audience when on stage and praise the flexibility of the auditoria. The public who visit and use Glór appreciate the modern welcoming design of the foyer, the quality of the fit-out and choice of large airy spaces and small living room style spaces.

Those of us who work and use Glór are proud of it and love coming into it each day. I often stand in the first floor gallery, watching people as they arrive for evening concerts and plays. As they walk into the building they swell with pride to think that Ennis, a provincial market town has a modern building with such excellent facilities. But what impresses them most is the beauty of the public space and the warmth of the atmosphere. They feel welcome.

The architects have achieved a unity of tradition and innovation in Glór. Here human and artistic values are cherished in a technically accomplished space, which enhances the individual performance and experience. Glór is a true monument to modern Irish artistic and cultural values.