National maritime centre plan for docks is floated

National maritime centre plan for docks is floated
An aerial view east over Cork's sprawling 160-hectare City Docks region.

CITY Hall is being urged to secure funding for a major national maritime centre in the city’s docks.

It is thought that the centre could be a major ‘must-see’ attraction, filling a gap recently identified by Fáilte Ireland.

At a recent briefing, the tourist body told city officials and councillors that Cork is missing a ‘must-see’ attraction in the spirit of the Guinness Storehouse or Belfast’s Titanic Experience. City officials have since conceded that the delivery of such an amenity needs to be a key aim for the city and must be completed in conjunction with the private market.

Independent councillor Mick Finn has called on City Hall to seek funding to develop such a centre at the heart of the docklands redevelopment. A local area plan for the area is currently in development and expected to be published by the summer to include a strategy for employment, housing and other amenities in an area the size of the existing city centre.

Mr Finn said that a facility highlighting Cork’s rich maritime history could be part of this, suggesting it could be linked to the likes of Cobh and Spike Island to fully tell the story of emigration to Britain, the US and Australia, as well as ties to the Lusitania and Titanic.

“It is the start of a process,” he said. “The docklands is going to be the new heart of the city in time and such a facility could mirror the success of those in London or Sydney.”

His proposal received significant support in City Hall, with councillors of all backgrounds agreeing that the discussion should become a fixed topic on the council’s agenda.

Fianna Fáil’s Tim O’Driscoll said: “We are 20 years bemoaning the fact that there is no must-see attraction in Cork city. Unless we drive it, we will be another 20 years waiting.

“The diaspora, the maritime history; these are good themes and we should aim to set something in stone before the lifetime of this council ends in 14 months.”

A report from the city’s corporate affairs department offered some support to the idea.

“It is certainly appreciated that the maritime credentials and assets of Cork represent an opportunity for the creation of a new visitor attraction of scale,” it said.

“The City Council has committed to continue to work with Fáilte Ireland to develop a plan.”

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