McClelland Irish Library officials have hired a master stonemason from Ireland to create authentic arches for its $3.5M building. The library is scheduled for completion in July.
Frank McCormack has been working with 22 tons of limestone that were quarried, cut, carved and shipped from Ireland for five arches that will complete the grand entry to the library.
McCormack helped create the Celtic design on the edges of the stone. The archway is modeled after a doorway discovered by the library’s architect, Paul Ahern, at the former St. Brigid’s Church, a 10th century structure on Holy Island in Ireland.
McCormack was chosen for the $120,000 project based on his previous work which includes the Irish Hunger Memorial located in Battery Park in New York City.
He is expected to finish the arches this week and return to Ireland on July 1.
The McClelland Irish Library is located adjacent to the Irish Cultural Center at 1106 N. Central Ave. When complete, the 15,000 SF library will be the only one of its kind in the West. Double AA Builders is the general contractor.
The McClelland Irish Library will house Irish literature, periodicals and important manuscripts and feature a genealogical research center. Norman McClelland, chairman of Shamrock Foods Co., is the founder of the library, which was created by a unique private-public partnership with Phoenix.
City official Chris Ewell is impressed that the Irish community was able to build the castle-like structure.
“It is awesome.” said Ewell, landscape architect for the city of Phoenix, park development and planning division. “When they told me what it was (in 2007), how big it would be and the cost, I thought they would never get this far. But they made it happen. Norman McClelland and the others have pulled off a miracle.”
A grand opening dedication is scheduled for September.