Pictures: A look back at the opening of Irish Steel in Cork Harbour

Pictures: A look back at the opening of Irish Steel in Cork Harbour

Embarking on the ferry for the official opening of Irish Steel, August 1939.

LAST week saw the opening of a new public park on a remediated former steelworks dump site in Cork Harbour.

Haulbowline Amenity Park opened to the public on January 15 after a lengthy clean-up and remediation of the former Irish Steel dump site.

The Irish Steel plant, which later became Ispat, operated on the island, alongside the Irish Naval Service headquarters, from 1939 until its closure in 2001.

From the 1960s, waste from the steel production process was deposited on the Spit Bank, a shallow sand spit extending eastwards, which became known as the East Tip.

The new amenity park, built on this site, includes 4km of harbour side walkways, a 1km jogging circuit and numerous seating areas to stop and take in the views of Cork Harbour. 

The park has also been extensively landscaped with over 200 trees, wildflower areas and is rich with biodiversity and wildlife.

August 1939: Opening of Irish Steel by Sean Lemass with Bishop of Cork, Most Rev Dr. Cohalan and Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Jim Hickey.
August 1939: Opening of Irish Steel by Sean Lemass with Bishop of Cork, Most Rev Dr. Cohalan and Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Jim Hickey.

Commenting, Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, noted the level of transformation that has taken place in the development of the park.

"The most innovative and customised solutions have been applied throughout with spectacular end result; excellent amenities and the establishment of woodlands and wildflower areas," he said.

View of Irish Steel, Haulbowline, 1958.
View of Irish Steel, Haulbowline, 1958.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said the park will be "a fantastic asset" to residents in Ringaskiddy and it's environs.

"People living outside 5km from the park will have to wait to visit Haulbowline but it will be worth the wait for the spectacular views of Cork Harbour," she added.

At the opening of Irish Steel, 1939.
At the opening of Irish Steel, 1939.

Delving through The Echo archives reveals a plethora of photographs from the day Irish Steel opened - a momentous day in Irish history.

An Echo article from August 24, 1939 captured the sense of excitement on the day.

"In honour of the occasion, the town of Cove and many boats in the harbour were gaily decorated with bunting.

"The new steel rolling mills, erected at a cost of well over half a million pounds will supply the entire steel requirements of the country," the piece stated.

Interior view of Irish Steel mills.
Interior view of Irish Steel mills.

The opening ceremony was performed by Sean Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce and attended by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr James Hickey, the Bishop of Cork Dr Daniel Cohalan, who blessed the vast workshops, the Bishop of Cloyne, Dr James Roche as well as about 300 other guests.

"Cove is observing the occasion as a gala day and tonight there will be yacht racing, a band promenade and other festivities, including a dinner given by Irish Steel Ltd at the Commodore Hotel.

Embarking on the ferry for the official opening of Irish Steel, August 1939.
Embarking on the ferry for the official opening of Irish Steel, August 1939.

"Mr Lemass will deliver an address which will be broadcast," the Echo article went on to state. 

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