BREWING giant Heineken crushed heritage campaigners’ hopes yesterday of developing a heritage centre on the site of Ireland’s oldest brewery.
But the National Heritage and Conservation Group, which is fighting to secure a tourist attraction on the historic Beamish and Crawford site in Cork City, vowed to fight on.
Senior Heineken executives Declan Farmer and Eamon O’Sullivan met members of the group yesterday and confirmed the company’s plans to decommission the brewery site once operations cease, and then sell the site on the open market.
“The meeting forms part of a continuing process of open engagement and dialogue between Heineken Ireland and all interested parties effected by the wind down and subsequent sale of the site,” Mr Farmer said.
“As an organisation with very deep roots in Cork we felt it extremely important to keep an open dialogue with the NCHG to keep them informed of our initiatives and indeed thoughts on how we intend to present this site to the market mindful of the historical nature of the site.
“Heineken emphasised our commitment to ensuring that the ‘Counting House’ building will be presented to the market in its current pristine condition mindful of the listed status that exists on same.
“We take this whole issue very seriously and will strive to ensure that all necessary actions will be taken as part of our commitment to the sensitive decommissioning of the site.”
The decision comes despite signals from University College Cork researchers that they would be interested in getting involved if micro-brewery type activity was set up on the Beamish site.
Group secretary Mick Murphy said UCC academics involved in brewing research contacted him before the meeting.
He said the group was also willing to lease or sublease the protected main Beamish brewery building on terms suitable to Heineken to secure the development of a tourist attraction.
Group chairman Damien Cassidy said he called a halt to the meeting after an hour in disgust.
“We are going to prove Heineken wrong. The fight isn’t over,” he said.
“We have given Heineken credit for the work they did on the former Murphy’s brewery building. But we got sick of listening to their talk of economics which took no account of the wishes of the people of Cork. We have an absolute intention of fighting on.”
The Beamish and Crawford brewery is due to close within weeks.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved