A PROTEST march will be held in the city tonight by the Cork Masons Historical Society against the proposed Office of Public Works (OPW) quay wall flood defences.
The society has claimed that concrete structures to be built on top of the existing quay walls will destroy the work carried out by generations of masons and workers from other trades who originally built the walls with rare Cork limestone from a now-closed quarry in Blackrock.
Historical Society member, Jim Fahy, said there are several examples of the limestone left dotted around the city in City Council depots that could be used to repair any damage to the walls, but these need to be protected and catalogued as once they are gone the supply line dries up.
The quarry in Blackrock is now a public park which cannot be reopened.
“The main thing is that the limestone [used to build the quay walls] is precious. Once it is gone it will never be again seen and the history goes. Masons, stonecutters, carvers and monumental workers were all involved in the quays as well as carpenters and labourers,” he said.
“There were a lot of trades involved so it’s important that the people in Cork city wake up and smell the coffee,” he added.
The OPW and Cork City Council are pushing forward proposals for raised quay walls in the city as part of a €140m flood defence plan which has the backing of the Cork Business Association.
Campaign group, Save Cork City, is advocating a tidal barrier at Lough Mahon which they say will cost in the region of €170m.
However, this has been refuted by the OPW, which claims that a tidal barrier could cost between €450 million and €1 billion. Experts at Delft University in the Netherlands have said the OPW may have overestimated the cost of the tidal barrier and say it could be built for under €200m.
The Cork Masons Historical Society is backing Save Cork City’s campaign for a tidal barrier and will march tonight to raise awareness.
“We are asking for anyone who is interested in saving the historic quay walls in Cork to join us in a protest march of the quay walls starting from the Carpenters Hall at 7pm this evening and ending back at Carpenters Hall at 8pm,” they said in a statement.
“The city councillors will be meeting [on] Monday evening to give the go-ahead for work to start and then it will be too late to stop the destruction of walls built by our forefathers and a link with our heritage. Please don’t stand by and leave them do the same to our quay walls.”