Byrne & Byrne build to the most exacting standards

15 Jul , 2022  

Byrne & Byrne Building Contractors’ outstanding achievement in successfully delivering the Wicklow Town Library & County Archive refurbishment, extension and fit out project to the most exacting standards has been recognised by the judges at the 2022 Irish Construction Excellence Awards. Building Ireland touched base with director / contracts manager Barry Byrne to discuss this stunning project, which has been shortlisted as a finalist in the prestigious Public Building category.

Since its inception in 1979, Byrne & Byrne Building Contractors has become synonymous with invariably delivering quality workmanship and the keenest attention to detail across a comprehensive portfolio of residential and commercial construction projects throughout the south east.

From new builds to extensions and refurbishments, the Byrne & Byrne team has completed an extensive and varied portfolio of works down through the decades, from bespoke private homes to marquee commercial projects in multiple sectors including health, education, retail and civic buildings.

One such project, completed on behalf of Wicklow County Council, is Wicklow Town Library & County Archive – a stunning €3.3m, six-storey refurbishment, extension and fit out package which has been shortlisted in the Public Building category for a 2022 Irish Construction Excellence (ICE) Award. Director Barry Byrne, who runs the second-generation family business in conjunction with his brother Paul, recounts how this magnificent conversion of a former bank building into a vibrant and welcoming public library and archive came to be in the running for an ICE Award:

“This is our first time to enter and we are delighted to have made the final. Wicklow County Council were very happy with the project and it was they who encouraged us to go forward for the awards. The timing of the project went over two lockdowns and it was challenging to work in an enclosed building during that period of time.

“But we had a very good client and an excellent design team and everything went really well. The client’s enthusiasm, love and passion for this project – together with the design team’s accuracy when it came to the coordination of each of the different elements within the building – set the standard when it came to quality and how they envisaged the finish of the building.”

Work on the Wicklow Town Library & County Archive project comprised demolition works, extension and refurbishment, new external façade, upgrading of the building’s Fire and DAC regulations, full mechanical & electrical fit out, refurbishment of the old lift and the installation of a new lift and atrium, as well as new windows and doors.

The interior fit out was extensive, including internal division glazing, library shelving, mobile book shelving, display cases, toy box, archive filing, office furniture, bespoke seating, bespoke internal doors and ironmongery, and sanitary fittings to include adult hoist and changing table. Considering that the project was carried out in a busy urban environment during the height of the Covid-19 public health emergency, completing it within the eleven-month programme, to the design team’s specifications and the client’s satisfaction represented a fantastic achievement for the main contractor.

“It was essentially a full gut-out, refurbishment and repurposing of an existing six-storey building, which had to be completed to the most exacting level of detail,” Barry continues. “Once we had our first meeting with the client and the design team it was immediately evident that every square foot of this building had been thought

about and every piece of furniture, every space, had a very specific purpose. Every product had a reason to be in this building. The brief was very specific, very detail-orientated, with nothing left to chance. Everything was thought through in great detail and that presented obvious challenges, but we embraced the challenge and it worked out nicely.”

Level 2 is the children lending area and this space needed to be friendly, colourful, and fun. The centrepiece of this floor is the fitted furniture: a large circular bookcase around which all other elements – such as the floor finish, ceiling finish, lights, services and other secondary fitments – are coordinated. This circular bookcase is so large and complex in its construction that Byrne & Byrne recognised early on that it would need to be started ahead of time and constructed in pieces offsite and then assembled onsite. This fitment needed to be millimetre-perfect so that when it was assembled onsite it would match up perfectly with the floor, ceiling and the other services around and above it.

Level 4 was the most challenging and required extensive Revit 3D modelling to find a way to accommodate the ventilation requirement for this floor along with the high volume of wiring (as the floor was primarily a study area and had a high service point requirement). The building also required a W.C. to every floor, which also created significant challenges with pipe runs throughout the floors. Revit was again an important tool to ensure there was adequate space to achieve required pipe falls and to coordinate with other services.

Several areas of the project benefited from MMC, in particular the external cladding and fit out package. Where additional spaces were added to the building, sheet cladding materials were incorporated to speed construction. These had a positive impact on programme, allowing areas to be completed quickly and cleanly.

By its very nature, a library requires an extensive fit out package. Many of the shelving units were used as architectural features incorporating curves and extensive lighting integration. Revit 3D software was again utilised to make sure various elements of furniture curves aligned with ceiling and floor finish curves, etc, which also allowed the furniture to be manufactured offsite and assembled quickly onsite.

This had particular advantages of speed but also as this part of the project was completed under Covid -19 restrictions, the number of workers onsite could be minimised.

Established 43 years ago by Nicholas and Barty Byrne, Byrne & Byrne is an industry-leading, multidisciplined and flexible residential and commercial building contractor, boasting over four decades of experience in housebuilding, be it one-off bespoke private homes, social housing schemes for local authorities or even their own private developments in counties Wexford and Carlow.

At the time of writing, Byrne & Byrne were working on a 23-unit social housing scheme in Kilkenny and a 17-unit scheme in Gorey, having handed a 52-unit social housing development at Páirc Na gCon, Greenville Lane, Enniscorthy over to Clúid Housing Association / Wexford County Council towards the end of 2021. Meanwhile, indicative of the company’s versatility and broad range of expertise, essential works were delivered to the HSE on a Covid unit in Carlow during the early days of the pandemic as well as 150 houses at Cluain Bui, Quinagh, Carlow and 12 houses at Bridge Meadow, Shingaun, Enniscorthy.

Byrne & Byrne is very much a hands-on contractor, with the capacity to provide complete bespoke solutions from start to finish, covering everything from the initial civils / groundworks through to fit out and landscaping. Directors Barry and Paul Byrne, who boast QS and engineering backgrounds respectively, take a proactive interest in every project and pride themselves on communicating, engaging and collaborating with clients throughout the construction process.

“We always strive to be as flexible as we possibly can be on every project,” the former confirms. “We work with the client and the architect, making sure we are all aiming towards a common goal. You have to listen carefully to your client’s needs and give them a building that either meets or exceeds their expectations. As well as maintaining the keenest attention to detail, we also work hard to make sure every job comes in on time and within budget. Plans will always change somewhere along the way and you have to be flexible in order to accommodate these changes.”

Decades of experience and exceptional workmanship shine through on every Byrne & Byrne Building Contractors project. To this end, they employ a highly-skilled and motivated in-house team of twelve and also engage the services of a core group of tried and trusted subcontractors, who always work to the same high standards insisted upon by Byrne & Byrne’s meticulous management team.

This renowned family-run contracting company has come a long way since its genesis in 1979 and further growth could be on the cards going forward. “The construction industry in Ireland is in a strong place right now, although there are two major problems impacting on everybody, namely the steep rise in the cost of building materials and a shortage of skilled labour,” Barry concludes. “But we have some nice work in front of us and you are always looking to grow your business – the day you are happy to stand still is the day you will start moving backwards.”

Byrne & Byrne Building Contractors,

Ryland Road,



County Wexford.

Tel: 053 9377377

Email: [email protected]

Web: byrneandbyrne.ie

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, July 2022, Vol 8 No 7