€3.2m blueprint prepared to create better future for butter building

A €3.2m blueprint has been prepared to breathe new life in to one of Cork’s most historic buildings.

The interior of the Cork Butter Exchange in 1905. It was closed in 1924 Pic: Irish Examiner Archive

Cork Institute of Technology has prepared a detailed report for Cork City Council on the possible transformation of the former Butter Exchange in Shandon into a cutting-edge craft and design hub.

The project, which is based on similar hubs such as the Fumbally Exchange outlets in Dublin and Waterford, and the Fab Lab in Limerick, is subject to funding.

Cork City Council has now applied to the EU, under its Urban Centre Grant Scheme, for funding to kickstart the project.

It is understood that the Butter Exchange building requires major structural work to its roof before it can be deemed fit for purpose. This is the latest attempt to find a long-term sustainable use for the building, which has lain vacant for almost four years.

Dating from the late 1700s, it was once one of the largest butter exchange buildings in the world when Ireland and Cork in particular, were at the centre of the world’s butter production.

Following the Government’s decision to abandon its national disapora centre — the Butter Exchange building was Cork’s bid to host such a centre — City Hall commissioned CIT to examine future possible uses for the building.

The head of the council’s tourism unit, Damien O’Mahony, praised the CIT report, and student, Marc Ó Riain, in particular, for his work on the scheme.

“The vision for the building would be for it to host several creative or design businesses, and to provide tourists with the best of Irish design.

“But it wouldn’t just be the traditional ceramics, textiles, or glasswork. It would feature digital design, architecture, digital photography and film,” he said.

It is hoped the project will act as a major footfall attraction to the Shandon area, which already boasts the famous Shandon church, the Butter Museum, the Firkin Crane theatre, Annie Moore’s house and Jack Lynch’s house.

A decision on the EU funding is expected early next year around the same time as a decision on a €2m funding application to develop a “living medieval street” attraction in Elizabeth Fort.

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