West Cork music venue Connolly’s Of Leap launches international architecture competition

Picture: Eadaoin McCarthy

The iconic music venue Connolly’s of Leap have announced the launch of their international Irish Music Venue architecture competition, hosted in association with leading architect competition organisers Bee Breeders.

This worldwide competition focuses on breathing new life into the existing venue, which sits nestled away in the heart of West Cork. Connolly’s is a venue which promotes all types of music; from traditional Irish folk music, to the most avant garde electronic music of today. Not only do they support and nurture the creative talents of musicians, but all creatives from designers to architects and artists alike.

The Connolly’s of Leap Irish Music Venue competition at it’s core is concerned with acknowledging Ireland’s place in the music industry and promoting it to an international audience, while also exploring how an existing music venue can be transformed to become an iconic destination in its own right. Ultimately, it is hoped that the competition will provide a strong precedent for other rural venues, both in Ireland and abroad. This competition is open to everyone, there is no professional qualification required. Design proposals can be developed individually, or by teams. The total prize fund up for grabs is $6,000.

Though this is an ideas competition, there is intent on the part of Sam McNicholl, owner of Connolly’s, to go into development at some point in the future. Participants are encouraged to push the boundaries of their creativity and challenge themselves to create novel approaches to redesigning this venue, while at the same time respecting the heritage of the existing bar.

Sam McNicholl, owner of Connolly’s of Leap commented, “It’s been a dream of mine to renovate the family home and venue and I realise the huge potential of the building and the site. My mum grew up in the house, it’s been the same for three generations, and now its time to take it into the 21st century, while keeping to our core values.

“The inception of the idea came from one of my oldest friends Andrew Kirwan, and architecture student who hails from West Cork, he’s been amazing getting all of this together and driving it forward. The Bee Keeper project just feels right – at the moment it’s just conceptual, but I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of experimental designs from this, and working with them to create some more magic for everyone to enjoy.”

Masters of Architecture Student (The Scott Sutherland School, Aberdeen) Andrew Kirwan said, “Having grown up with Sam and spent many a day running through the halls of Connolly’ s, constantly surrounded by music, I’ve observed the strength a venue like Connolly’ s has in bringing people and communities together. I’ve spent the last 6 years studying architecture, and I’ve dreamed of helping Sam reinvent Connolly’s.

“An architectural competition seemed like the obvious thing to do. This presents an exciting opportunity to explore how music and architecture inform one another and hopefully the entrants will set a new precedent for rural music venues in particular. The fact that Connolly’ s will be the model for that precedent is extremely exciting.”

Andrew believes that architecture often exhibits a certain hesitancy to embrace other art forms in a way which earnestly influences design considerations. Both he and Sam are hoping this competition will address that hesitancy and open up a conversation about architecture and music on an international level. It’s appropriate that this much loved music venue will be at the heart of that conversation.

The Connolly’s of Leap Irish Music Venue architecture competition is open to all.

No professional qualification is required.

Register your interest now at: