Tourism in East Cork received a boost yesterday when Michael Ring, the junior tourism minister, advocated Youghal as a likely “capital of the Ancient East”.
He was referring to a recently launched tourism concept primarily focused on historic and heritage attractions stretching from the Boyne Valley in Dublin south to Waterford and Cork.
Mr Ring yesterday visited the walled town’s 438- year-old Clock Gate Tower, which is undergoing redevelopment as a museum and interpretative centre.
He also officially launched the nearby Raleigh Quarter, where the 800-year-old St Mary’s Collegiate Church, situated alongside five acres of gardens nestled behind the ancient town walls, owe historical relevance to Walter Raleigh, Oliver Cromwell, and the Boyle family.
Fine Gael TD David Stanton, Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan, and Fine Gael minister Michael Ring enjoy the eco-boardwalk.
Mr Ring said he had “no doubt that Youghal can become the capital of the Ancient East”.
The town “has absolutely everything: Beaches, river, scenery, heritage, and history,” said Mr Ring. “It’s primed to take off with co-operation between local and regional organisations, politicians, and the wider community.”
He also leant his support to efforts to save the 100-year-old Moll Goggins viewing balcony close to Youghal beach, which is at risk of collapse.
Mr Ring officially re-opened the eco-boardwalk at Claycastle, a reinforced structure that replaces a walkway opened in 2012 but destroyed by the January 2014 storms.
The eco-boardwalk was created using 440m of African hardwood, encased on steel beds, and treated in hot-dip galvanising. The county council project was backed by Government funding.
Wheelchair accessible, the boardwalk attracts thousands of visitors weekly, many of whom would find difficulty negotiating the beach.
Mr Ring promised to seek funding for a proposed 1.5km boardwalk extension to Redbarn beach, running parallel to Ballyvergin Marsh, the largest freshwater coastal marsh in Cork and home to important plant and bird species.
Mr Ring was slightly circumspect when informed that the features he had visited had been developed by the former town council, which was abolished last year.
He said: “We must give the new municipal district system a chance.
“No issue is ever closed and I’m sure there will be new governments and new people that will want to look at it again.”
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