Royal Irish Academy of Music granted €9 million in public funding to transform its Dublin campus

The redevelopment of RIAM’s Westland Row building will provide Ireland’s longest established music conservatoire with state-of-the-art facilities to train and inspire future generations of Irish and international musicians and to underpin its driving ambition to nurture passion for music

The Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) Ireland’s longest serving provider of classical music education has been granted €9 million in public funding towards its forthcoming redevelopment, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the 170-year-old institution.  Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan and Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, jointly made the announcement at the RIAM. The public funding will be added to €5.5 million already raised by the RIAM towards total project costs of €20 million to revolutionise the teaching of music at its Westland Row campus in Dublin City Centre. Having already secured 72.5% of necessary funds for this ambitious project, the redeveloped RIAM Westland Row campus is expected to be completed and open to students during the 2021/22 academic year. 

The redevelopment has been designed by prestigious architecture firm, TODD Architects, best known for designing the Titanic Belfast and as the firm behind the Irishtown Stadium in Ringsend and the Belfast Waterfront Exhibition and Conference Centre.

Fundraising for the project, which received planning permission in 2017, began earlier this year with important philanthropic donations from Mrs Carmel Naughton, Lochlann and Brenda Quinn and The John Pollard Foundation.

Further support has also come from Riverdance composer Bill Whelan, Tim and Joan Delaney, and institutions such as Northern Trust Bank, KPMG, the Lauritzson Foundation and the trustees of Arthur Carr Donnelly, Joan Butler and Leona Rennicks.

Distinguished alumni of the RIAM include soprano, Celine Byrne, writer, Joseph O’Connor, actresses, Sinead and Niamh Cusack, mezzo-soprano, Tara Erraught, violinist, Fionnuala Hunt and pianists Finghin Collins and Hugh Tinney. The proposed redevelopment and expansion will enable the RIAM to train, support and guide even more of Ireland’s future musical stars. 

The redesigned Westland Row RIAM campus will feature:

  • A new 300-seat concert hall

  • A purpose-built opera studio and rehearsal space

  • 75 teaching rooms featuring adjustable and adaptable acoustics

  • A new state-of-the-art library to underpin an ambitious research agenda

  • A sonic arts hub for electronic music composition

  • A 60-seat tiered lecture hall

  • A dedicated music therapy facility for people of all ages and needs

  • A new and more accessible entrance that will allow wheelchair users to fully access RIAM’s facilities

The redeveloped and expanded campus will enable the RIAM to increase its student enrolment and significantly strengthen its teaching faculty. The fully accessible facilities will also allow the RIAM to develop tailor-made programmes for disabled musicians and to deliver music therapy onsite, a first for any conservatoire in Ireland. 

Speaking at the launch, Director of the RIAM, Professor Deborah Kelleher said, “The RIAM has a proud history of supporting the musical development of musicians from amateur level to the highest pinnacle of the profession. In 2023 the RIAM will be 175 years old.  We are using this milestone year to roll out a new vision that is based on the traditions and values that have brought us both domestic and international success, while at the same time looking afresh at our practices from the foundations up, so that we can provide relevant, standards driven music education to future generations of young musicians. The re-development of our Westland Row campus is a key enabling piece in making this vision a reality.”

At the announcement of the public funding by both departments, RIAM Chairman, Dr Dennis Jennings acknowledged that “this significant support and commitment of the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today now enables us to transform our campus and ensure future generations of outstanding musical talent can reach their full potential to become musical ambassadors for Ireland on the world stage”.

Commenting further on the announcement, Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D. said, “The RIAM has been an important part of Ireland’s cultural world for over a century, providing the training and support that puts Irish musicians centre of the global stage. The roll call of names that have passed through its door include some of the greatest performers on the domestic and world stage. It continues to help produce the best young talent in Ireland, and its redevelopment marks a significant first step towards the future of classical music in this country.”

Also present at the RIAM this morning, Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor T.D. said, “The funding and redevelopment of the RIAM campus signals a new era in third level music education in Ireland, which will make higher learning in all aspects of classical music more accessible to more students, and more relevant to their needs and ambitions. When the expansion is completed, the RIAM will not only be a unique landmark building in Dublin, but also a leading school for the teaching and performance of music both nationally and internationally. It will be a home where students can focus their musical and creative energies to achieve their very best under the guidance of world renowned teachers and fellow musicians in world class facilities.”