Courthouse may find new lease of life as museum

Justice may be seen to be done shortly with the possible disposal of a magnificent, but vacant, courthouse building.

The Irish Court Service says it is willing to listen to suggestions and proposals from Cork County Council in regard to the future of the old courthouse in Youghal.

The listed riverside building at Market Square has been disused since the late 1990s, despite extensive restoration work.

It has remained idle as the court services opted to continue leasing the nearby Mall House from the county council. The Mall House facilitates court hearings in the upstairs’ theatre and arts room, while the municipal district offices operate underneath.

The restored courthouse dates to 1847, when it replaced an earlier civic administration structure as part of a Famine relief scheme.

Several earlier buildings had occupied the site close just outside the town walls and close to the present Clock Gate. They included a theatre where, it is claimed, William Shakespeare once visited.

Independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley, who was raised metres from the structure, wants to see it serving the community in some capacity.

“Nothing has been formally considered but discussions will occur after the councillors’ August recess,” she said.

The surrounding area has been repaved in recent times and given its pivotal role in the town’s evolving heritage infrastructure, there have been suggestions it should house a museum of some sort. Other suggestions include replacing or supplementing the nearby compact tourist office or transferring the library service.

Ms Linehan-Foley said ideas from “any quarter” in regard to the building’s future use would be welcomed.

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