EU funding is helping to support tourism in Cork city and in other Atlantic cities in a number of ways.
Elizabeth Fort, located just off Barrack Street in Cork city, is one tourism initiative that has benefitted from this type of funding.
Cork City Council acquired the fort in 2013 and wanted to develop it for tourism.
A key element in achieving this goal was the council’s decision to join the EU-funded Maritime, Military and Industrial Atlantic Heritage (MMIAH) project.
The council participates along with other groups from cities such as Limerick, Liverpool, Plymouth, Caen-Normandie, La Rochelle, Ferrol, Cadiz, and Ílhavo.
They come together to find ways to recover disused maritime, military, and industrial heritage sites through new social and economic actions.
The focus of the MMIAH project in Cork is on the enhancement of visitor services at Elizabeth Fort, with €307,500 being provided over three years from the European Regional Development Fund to achieve this and with Joanne Hughes being appointed as project manager.
The broader goals of the MMIAH project include recovering maritime, industrial, and military heritage sites in EU Atlantic cities; establishing a joint model of sustainable management which can be applied to other heritage sites; and developing these sites to ensure they become a key part of the cultural and tourism offering in those cities.
One piece of work commissioned in 2018 as a result of the MMIAH project was to conduct a live geophysical survey of Elizabeth Fort’s interior, using state-of-the-art ground-penetrating radar technology.
The purpose of this was to find traces of the medieval parish church of St Mary del Nard, which pre-dated the 17th-century fort.
In time, it is hoped that funding from the MMIAH project will provide for a display room in Elizabeth Fort, where the full survey of the site will be available for the public to view.
Another outcome of the funding and the MMIAH collaborative project structure was the development of multilingual audio guides.
Translations of the fort’s rich history into French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Irish, and Italian offer a valuable support to visitors.
According to Cork city councillor Kieran McCarthy, who is a member of the EU’s Committee of the Regions, the city council’s involvement in the MMIAH project has been a great learning curve for all involved.
He said that the wider aims of MMIAH were able to fit within wider tourism and urban regeneration and enhancement proposals in Cork City.
Elizabeth Fort was visited by more than 61,000 tourists in 2019 as a result of these improvements.
It also hosts educational tours and art exhibitions annually, bringing a diverse range of people to the fort for the first time.
Walking along the fort walls allows for fantastic views of Cork City and for an understanding of where and how the city developed.
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.
A tour gives visitors an insight into the major historical events that have impacted the fort and the city. Staff are happy to welcome family groups, groups of friends, and individuals.
:: Article supplied by European Movement Ireland