MUNSTER might not have won the Heineken Cup this year but the province can claim another title as its home ground, Thomond Park in Limerick has scooped a prestigious architecture award.
The redeveloped rugby stadium ground was voted the public’s favourite Irish building in the annual awards ceremony hosted by Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland in Dublin last night.
The famous home of Munster rugby, which now has a 26,500-capacity, was re-opened last year following a 20-month construction project that cost around €40 million.
Plans for the new Thomond Park were designed by leading architectural firm, Murray O’Laoire.
One of the practice’s founders, Hugh Murray – a brother of the Chief Justice John Murray – said he was delighted to accept the Public Choice award "as an architect, a Limerick man and a Munster supporter."
"The firm is really pleased that the project is getting the recognition it deserves," said Mr Murray. "Maintaining the atmosphere and close relationship between players and spectators was a key requirement."
The winner of the RIAI’s Public Choice award was chosen by listeners of RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme.
No doubt backed by the famous support of Munster rugby fans, Thomond Park easily beat off strong competition, receiving around 37% of the 5,000 votes submitted in the online poll. Other popular public buildings such as the new Opera House in Wexford and the new library in Abbeyleix, Co Laois finished in second and third place respectively.
The much-praised Opera House, designed by OPW architects and Keith Williams Architects, went on to win the award for best cultural building, while De Blacam & Meagher received the Best Conservation/Restoration Award for their work on the Abbeyleix library.
Murray O’Laoire also won an award for its design for the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly in the category for healthcare building.
However, Thomond was beaten by the Ballyfermot Leisure & Youth Centre Project for the award for Best Leisure Building.
A total of 17 projects, ranging from small house extensions to large-scale public building projects, were presented with their awards by Environment Minister John Gormley.