Members of Cork City Council have been given an update by officials on the city’s revamp of its wayfinding narrative and the outcome of a recent national funding call. Independent Councillor Kieran McCarthy noted: “there are many tourist signs around the city centre that are dated and run down and which have not been replaced in 2-3 decades; many tourists are unable to navigate the signage currently in the city centre. Currently there are few useful orientation tools at arrival points in the City or city wide and the signage that does exist is scattered and fragmented. The highly walkable nature of the city is not apparent, and visitors can be unaware of all that the City has to offer”.
In December 2019 Fáilte Ireland announced details of those cities and towns, which were successful in their applications under its “Destination Town” funding scheme, which seeks to drive a greater regional spread of visitors and revenue across the country by helping to boost the tourism appeal of cities and towns. Each of those areas selected, including Cork City, will receive between €400 000 – €500 000 to support the implementation of their projects. The final amount of funding is expected to be confirmed in January 2020.
In Cork City the funding will support the development and roll out of a new visitor orientation and wayfinding scheme. Cork City has a compelling year-round offering to international visitors, with a quirky café culture, thriving arts scene, vibrant year-round festivals, a vast array of accommodation and intriguing cultural offering. However, the city centre’s unique island layout, with river channels to its north and south, makes orientation more challenging for visitors.
This project will develop orientation and signage which is unique to Cork and imbued with a distinct sense of place. Visitors will feel welcome, and will find it easy to get around, understand what is available to them within walking distance, or by bicycle or public transport. The incorporation of interpretation, storytelling and animation will enable visitors to understand the city’s maritime character and heritage and understand the sense of place.
Key elements of the project will include: – Gateway and arrival points: Create a warm and fitting welcome at gateway and arrival points (Cork Airport, railway and bus stations, car parks, park’n’ride) with best practice wayfinding and orientation information alongside engaging interpretation that reflects Cork City’s unique maritime character. Orientation, wayfinding and interpretation -
– establish a network of highly visible points throughout the City for pedestrians to orientate and gain insight into the layout of the City. Visitors will be able to easily determine their current location, their on-going journey and continue to explore with confidence.
Cllr McCarthy noted: “The elements of the project will deliver a network of totem and fingerpost signs, located at key arrival and decision-making points throughout the City. Totems will provide key orientation and wayfinding information together with graphic panels. Funding is also being sought from the NTA to support the implementation of this project”.
An update on the development of a large-scale visitor attraction for Cork City has been given to members of Cork City Council. Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has long been an advocate of a large-scale visitor attraction in the city’s dock’s area; “I have regularly called for something to be done with the old Odlums building on South Docks, which has much character and is just sitting there being allowed to decay. It seems there is more willingness in the last few months to develop a maritime-themed visitor centre”.
Last year a process of engagement continued with the elected members and leadership team of Cork City Council, facilitated by Fáilte Ireland and tourism experts. All wished for the development of an iconic, family friendly visitor attraction that reflects the maritime heritage of the City.
In recent months, the site of the former bonded warehouses of the city’s historic custom house has been identified as one possible location for such an attraction. As part of their plans for the site Tower Holdings expressed their wish to develop a heritage facility and Cork City Council officials have been working with the company to explore possible funding sources.
An application has been submitted to Fáilte Ireland under its “Platforms for Growth” capital investment programme which seeks to support major new visitor attractions of scale. Authentically located in the historic bonded warehouses, the project would deliver an interactive, immersive visitor experience that shares the unique story of a people and place connected and shaped by their relationship to the sea, from past to present to future. It will also look outward to a world that has influenced the city and which it, in turn, has influenced. The attraction would feature a strong infusion of science and technology, looking not just at the past but also integrating the present and future, partnering with third level institutions to present pioneering maritime research which could address global issues.
The application process involves multiple stages and has been highly competitive, attracting the largest number of applications ever received by Fáilte Ireland. The Cork City maritime heritage attraction application has now been approved to progress to Stage 3 of the application process, where applicants must demonstrate the commercial potential, economic viability and financial sustainability of the proposed attraction. It is still an ongoing competitive process and Failte Ireland envisage that only a small number of strong applications will be brought forward following the Stage 3 process.
Cllr Kieran McCarthy highlighted: “It is great the there is a proposal for the bonded warehouses, which are almost two hundred years old and for me are important to mind. I wouldn’t like the city’s north and south docks be fully developed with their rich history of the Docklands consigned to just a footnote in Cork’s past. There are layers and layers of docklands, which need to be explored”.