Constructed on the historic Mount Sion site at Barrack Street, Waterford, this building was designed to become one of Ireland’s premier ecclesiastical and heritage tourism sites. The centre attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over Ireland, as well as from the 35 countries where the Irish Christian Brothers have a presence. Visitors are offered a spectacular new chapel and museum, where the mortal remains of the Founder of the Irish Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers rests. Mount Sion is the principal site for the veneration of his relics on this site, where Blessed Edmund Rice established his first community and school in 1802. The chapel building, circular in plan with a free–standing square pitched slate roof, takes full advantage of the dramatic vista of Waterford City spread out between Mount Sion and the River Suir. The museum building, linked to the chapel building, occupies the original Monastery building. The formation of the site involved the removal of an existing 1960’s chapel, creating a new piazza opening onto Barrack Street. The pallet of materials chosen consists of natural slate roof, fieldstone walls, oak ceilings and floors and large glazed screens incorporating stained glass from the original chapel, which sat on this site. The concept of the chapel is based on Edmund Rice’s Life. The Tomb is encompassed within the chapel on the original site of Mount Sion overlooking the City through extensive glazing, the square roof of natural slate reflects the word shelter and the circular plan within reflects his strength and sense of purpose, the natural stone walls reflect his rural birthplace in Callan Co. Kilkenny.
This modern museum has many captivating features including a multimedia tour of 18th Century Waterford, complete with the sights, sounds and even smells of the city streets and dwellings – and laser-generated displays. It stands as one of the landmark visitors’ buildings of Waterford – international in scope, it also bridges local development, as the Centre has also become a thriving community centre, and the heart and soul of the local community, recreational base for local businesses, and community organisations.