THE historic Titanic Pier in Cobh will be accessible to visitors for the first time in decades after planning permission was granted for an extensive refurbishment.
The 150-year-old derelict pier, known as 'Heartbreak Pier', was the point from which more than one million emigrants left for new lives in Australia and the United States in the 19th and 20th century, including some 123 who departed to board the Titanic.
The frail pier at the rear of the White Star Line building had fallen into disrepair, prompting calls to restore and protect the structure.
Works to stabilise the pier took place in January 2016 in conjunction with the Port of Cork and Cork County Council after the pier was purchased by Gillen Joyce, the managing director of the Titanic Experience.
It is now expected pier could add significantly to tourist numbers in the area with many third and fourth generation Irish tracing their routes back to Cobh.
Cork County Council has granted conditional permission, subject to levies and the omission of a spire in drawings, for a €500,000 upgrade with a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform to be constructed over the existing Titanic Pier with sail style canopies and associated conservation works to the original pier structure.
The walkway structure will be supported by circular hollow steel piles driven into the seabed. It is also proposed to install a kiosk structure, turnstile and glass screen on the south-west corner of the Parade Grounds. The kiosk will function as the ticket office and entrance to the walkway.
Mr Joyce said the refurbishment will be a hugely positive addition to Cobh's tourism offering.
“Titanic Pier, as an additional tourist attraction in the town, has the potential to draw a further 30,000 visitors to the region which will have a significant and positive impact on the economy as well as Cobh's positioning as a 'must visit' location in the South of Ireland.
“The future of Titanic Pier is greatly enhanced by the provision of planning; the investment in the project will secure this incredible national and international monument into the future, and will see that this remarkable and poignant piece of history is protected, and available for all to appreciate, whether living in Cobh or visiting."