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An exciting feature of the exhibition at Elizabeth Fort is a newly-commissioned artwork by archaeological illustrator, Philip Armstrong depicting Cork city between 1624 -26.
An exciting feature of the exhibition at Elizabeth Fort is a newly-commissioned artwork by archaeological illustrator, Philip Armstrong depicting Cork city between 1624 -26.
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How Cork city looked in 1624; new painting shows the construction of Elizabeth Fort

CORK’S storied past has become more accessible than ever before with multi-language audio guides, a new exhibition and watercolour illustrations of Elizabeth Fort in the 17th century.

French, Spanish, Portuguese and German - as well as English - audio guides are now available at the popular tourist spot and Irish and Italian guides will be available in the coming weeks.

They come as a new permanent exhibition, entitled, ‘Walls, Women, Water” by Deirdre Black & Associates (Oli and Mark Thompson Design) was launched at the fort earlier this week.

The permanent exhibition tells the story of the development of the fort - and of Cork - through maps, images and text.

It also recounts the tragic story of the 150 female convicts and their children whose tragic last steps on dry land were from Elizabeth Fort to their ill-fated ship, ’The Neva’. In their book, ‘The Wreck of The Neva’, Cal McCarthy and Kevin Todd recounted in detail how just six of the women from Elizabeth Fort survived.

A new watercolour by archaeological illustrator, Philip Armstrong has been commissioned and is called ‘Paint the Past’.

Lord Mayor John Sheehan said the watercolour is an “impressive” depiction of Cork city in the 1700s.

“Working closely with archaeologists in City Hall, Philip has produced a wonderful watercolour depicting Cork between 1624 -26. The archaeological detail and quality achieved in this new artwork is impressive and will be an attraction in its own right for years to come. Visitors to the Fort on Culture Night 2019 enjoyed a sneak preview of the exhibition and this illustration proved particularly popular with Corkonians and tourists alike.” 

Cork City Council has been a partner in the EU Atlantic Area ‘Maritime, Military and Industrial Atlantic Heritage’ (MMIAH) project which is concerned with the sustainable recovery and re-use of under-utilized elements of the MMIAH heritage of coastal Atlantic cities.

The focus of the MMIAH project in Cork is on the enhancement of visitor services at Elizabeth Fort, which was opened to the public five years ago and has seen rising visitor numbers every year since. Last year, it was visited by 60,000 people. The MMIAH project provided significant European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) to improve the Elizabeth Fort visitor experience.

Cork City Council is one of 9 European project partners involved in MMIAH since 2017; working with Limerick, Liverpool, Plymouth, Caen-Normandie, La Rochelle, Ferrol, Cadiz and Ílhavo.

The historic Barrack Street fort welcomed 61,815 visitors from Ireland, the US, Germany, the UK, Spain, and further afield last year - an 11% increase.

Elizabeth Fort manager Peter Looney said: “Elizabeth Fort is increasingly appearing on lists and blogs about top attractions in Cork.

“Visitors love the view of the wider city that it offers and the many photo opportunities that it provides due to props that we have in place, like the much-loved pillory. Visitors also love its varied history over the years, from being built as a fortress in 1601 to its use by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and as a Garda Barracks. What is unique also about it is that is has survived within Cork’s city centre”.

Entry to the fort is free, although there is a nominal charge of €3 for adults (children under 12 go free) for a guided walking tour along the walls.