Plans for exhibition centre in city

Plans are under consideration for an exhibition centre on the outskirts of Cork City, along with sporting amenities.

The Munster Agricultural Society is considering expansion proposals for its site off the South Ring Rd dual carriageway.

John Murphy, development manager for the society’s Cork Summer Show, said further expansion is being planned.

The society has acquired a permanent showgrounds site at Curraheen on the western side of the city, part of the 126 acres secured last year, along with UCC, from Nama.

It is believed the society — which has charitable status — spent about €2m on 75 acres, made possible after it received €11.5m under a compulsory purchase order from the city council for the former 21-acre showgrounds in Ballintemple.

Its new headquarters in Curraheen amounts to 25 acres on the northern side of the Cork-Macroom motorway stretch and 50 acres on the southern side. UCC also made most of its 50 acres available for the two-day show.

“We need to erect at least one large sports/exhibition hall. This facility can be used by sports groups in the Cork area and various disciplinary groups within and associated with the Munster Agricultural Society,” he said.

“In particular, we want to return horse sales to the centre of Cork.”

Mr Murphy added: “We had no financial support from the city or county councils but we did not seek grant aid; the society has always stood on its own two feet. We have been advised by some of the councillors there is structural aid available to us, going forward, and we will go into discussions on what we can or cannot get. I would expect those discussions will take place over the next six months.”

Mr Murphy said poor weather in June for the summer show means the society will not fulfil a break-even target for 2013.

He said, however, the setback has not dented the society’s belief the event can become one of the biggest of its kind in the country, particularly with a larger-than-expected attendance defying the inclement conditions on the Sunday of the two-day affair.

In 2012, unfavourable weather forced the cancellation of the event.

“We are confident of making a profit next year, assuming the weather fulfils its summer promise,” Mr Murphy said.

“Any losses we have made were incorporated into the business plan and while we were aiming to break even this year, in view of the weather, this is unlikely to happen. In saying that, we won’t have the final costs for another month.

Mr Murphy added: “The Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, said he was extremely impressed with the public interest in the activities. He was very encouraged by the show and he saw it continuing to progress and develop as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, multi-disciplinary events in the country.”

“We cover many sectors and we are aiming for broad appeal with the general public.

“This year, we had 230 stands. Our last show in 2011, which was on a temporary site, had 90 trade stands. This amounts to a 150% increase this year. “There is a massive demand for a show like this, in that I believe people want to get out and market their wares,” said Mr Murphy. “We were also very pleased with the traffic management, which was a credit to the gardaí, and also how well the ground coped with the rain.” Pointing to plans for further development, he said: “We are still dealing with infrastructural costs. We have spent a considerable amount of money on internal roads and we done have done more construction work on walls.


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