A contemporary art space with dedicated galleries and a theatre opens in Carlow.

The largest gallery space in the country has opened in Carlow. The new 18 million euro VISUAL the Centre for Contemporary Arts and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre is located in the grounds of Carlow College and was designed by London architect Terry Pawson.

VISUAL has four main gallery spaces and a 355 seat theatre.

It's a state of the art centre.

Gallery Director Carissa Farrell describes the new Carlow centre as better than anything anywhere else in Ireland or the United Kingdom.

Over two hundred years ago, George Bernard Shaw's great grandfather owned a theatre in Carlow. Later, the playwright made his own contribution to the Carlow arts scene by donating properties he had inherited to the town to be used for artistic purposes. The theatre will host the annual George Bernard Shaw summer school from next year.

The Department for Arts, Sports and Tourism contributed €3 million towards the building of the centre with the remaining €15 million coming from town and county councils and donations.

Head of Carlow College Monsignor Caoimhín O'Neill says that the whole project was only possible through people working closely together.

For Carlow County Manager Tom Barry, the background in the visual arts in Carlow lies in Éigse.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 26 September 2009. The reporter is Mary Calpin.