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”.