Mr Kenny will cut the ribbon on University College Cork’s hi-tech €15m Beaufort Building, next to the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Ringaskiddy, on Saturday as SeaFest 2015 kicks off.
The critical piece of national infrastructure represents a major extension of UCC’s Environmental Research Institute and will be the university’s flagship presence on the Irish Maritime and Energy Research Cluster campus at Ringaskiddy.
The 4,700sq m five-storey building has a 2,600sq m wave tank hall, with four huge wave tanks and a bank of electrical test infrastructure.
It will house Marine Renewable Energy Ireland and the LIR National Ocean Test Facility — a cluster of university and industry partners working on cutting-edge marine renewable energy projects.
Once at capacity, the building will be home to 135 research and support staff.
The official opening will be among the highlights of the two-day SeaFest.
As part of the inaugural event, Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s Beaufort Scale hurricane wind simulator will be installed in the NMCI to give people a chance to experience the full force of hurricane winds.
The NMCI will also allow people experience its hi-tech ship bridge simulator, and will host live seafood cookery demonstrations by Martin Shanahan and Rory O’Connell, a fish market, sea life exhibits, educational film screenings, and talks.
Some 500 people will take part in the Vibes and Scribes Lee Swim and a ‘parade of sail’ will follow, departing from Ringaskiddy to the Port of Cork marina in the city at 4pm, where live music, street performers, a food market, and tours of a naval ship will be on offer from 5pm to 8pm.
“As an island nation, it is so important to recognise and celebrate the incredible resources of Ireland’s abundant and surrounding seas,” Marine Minister Simon Coveney said.
“This two-day festival will travel Ireland, taking place in Cork in 2015 and we already have plans to bring SeaFest to Galway in 2016.”
Ringaskiddy will also host the Explorers Marine Life Education Exhibit — a collaboration between the Lifetime Lab and the Marine Institute’s Explorers Programme for children. An RNLI fundraising duck race will also take place in the harbour.
The Black Ash Park and Ride facility will operate a free shuttle bus service to Ringaskiddy every half hour, and the naval service will operate a ferry from the naval pier in Cobh to Haulbowline every hour on Saturday from 10pm to 5pm.
For more information, log onto www.seafest.ie