6th March 2014
By Bryan T. Smyth
The building at Cobh Railway Station is currently undergoing renovation with the intention of opening the premises as a dual operation, offering tourism information on Cork City and County to visitors, in particularly cruise passengers, and as a vibrant exhibition space. A new company ‘Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd’ has formed to manage and develop this building and consists of directors from the Port of Cork, Cobh Heritage Centre, Cobh Tourism, SECAD, Cobh & Harbour Chamber, Cobh Town Council and Cork City Council. Their main aim is to develop and promote the potential of Cobh, East Cork, Cork City and Cork Harbour as an area of significant tourism, maritime, historical and economic importance.
South and East Cork Area Development Ltd. (SECAD) is grant aiding the renovation of the building through the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 supported through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the National Development Plan. The project will cost in the region of €150,000 and it is anticipated to have the building open for the commencement of the cruise season in April 2014.
The building currently being converted is a protected structure owned by CIE Properties, which forms part of the Cobh Railway Station Facility and which underwent a major upgrade in recent years. CIE Properties have enthusiastically welcomed the approach to utilise the available space and a long term lease agreement between Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd and CIE Properties has been agreed. The facility will be managed by Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd as a not-for-profit facility which will serve to promote and complement existing tourism, economic and community activity in the Cork Harbour Area. It is envisaged the building will open throughout the year and will capitalise on the increased footfall from cruise passengers from April to November each year. The building will also be used to accommodate cruise passengers who are either embarking or disembarking from a cruise ship. Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd, together with SECAD, hopes to employ two or three staff through the Tus community employment scheme.
Announcing the details of the project, Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd Chairman, Captain Michael McCarthy said: “This is a very exciting project for the Cobh and Cork region which will see a disused building turned into a tourism information hub and a space for exhibitions. The railway station already has a high footfall during the summer months when cruise liners are in Cobh and this building will offer passengers a place to absorb what the region has to offer either before or after a trip by train to Cork City.”
He continued: “Our aim is to complement other venues in Cobh offering similar exhibition space and Cobh Maritime Development Company Ltd will work closely with all local tourism venues to maximise the regions offering. We are also working closely with Cork City and Cork County Council to ensure Cork City and County attractions and events are also promoted to visitors.”
Following a tender application, local Cork Company MMD Construction was awarded the contract to carry out the necessary works to the building, which commenced in December 2013.