By Sean O’Riordan
Records of the 1,300 prisoners held on Spike Island, Cork during the War of Independence will form a special new exhibition at the Cork Harbour centre next year.
It’s one of a number of projects which are planned in 2019. Spike Island visitor numbers to date this year stand at 64,000 which is up 55% on 2017.
Sharon Corcoran, the council’s director of services for its economic development, enterprise and tourism directorate, said visitor numbers are expected to reach around 70,000 by year-end which is almost 60% up on last year.
The so-called magic figure, however, to make the tourist amenity self-sustainable is 100,000 and it could be attained quicker than the county council imagined.
Ms Corcoran has outlined to county councillors the plans now in place for further projects on the island in 2019.
She said a new ferry ticketing officer would be completed in Cobh, in conjunction with the Port of Cork authorities.
The council is also working with the port authority to develop new wheelchair accessible pontoon at the town’s Kennedy Pier.
Ms Corcoran said there were also plans in place to create a Victorian-era garden and recreation area in the outer island.
She said her office is evaluating tenders for the operation of a new ferry service between Cobh and Spike Island.
It is proposed to issue one primary licence for the sole provider of a larger ferry to bring more people to the visitor attraction.
Ms Corcoran also alerted councillors of proposals to upgrade tourism facilities at Camden Fort Meagher in Crosshaven.
She said the council had appointed JCA Architects to prepare a masterplan for the use, conservation and restoration of the coastal fort, a final draft of which would be available soon.
The challenge presented by Camden Fort Meagher, she said, is to create a viable attractive addition to both the tourism and cultural infrastructure of Co Cork and the potential business offer for the immediate Crosshaven area.
“It is the aim of Cork County Council to create and develop the Camden Fort Meagher site into a heritage, leisure, tourism and business destination,” she said.