Cork City councillor and historian Kieran McCarthy has called for further archaeological excavations at the site of the proposed events centre following the submission of new, expanded designs.
The developers of the centre, BAM, submitted an amended planning application for the site earlier this week. It includes an additional 2,176sq m of office space, fronting onto South Main Street, as well as a slightly larger events centre complex.
Artists’ impressions of the development, included in the planning application, show this element of the plan encroaching right onto the South Gate Bridge, the 18th-century structure which was also once the site of a gaol house complete with a dungeon.
It has prompted some concern on social media about the impact of the new development on one of the most historically important parts of the city centre.
Mr McCarthy, an independent councillor who leads historical walking tours of Cork City, said the site holds huge volumes of information about the city’s heritage.
Archaeological digs on other parts of the Beamish & Crawford site have uncovered foundations from 11th century Viking homes, as well as other artifacts.
Further investigations are required, Mr McCarthy said: “The revised computer-aided design of the centre shows that further archaeological investigation will have to happen near South Gate Bridge. The foundations of the former 18th-century debtor’s prison is still beneath the ground there.
In essence by the end of the project, substantial additions to Cork’s archaeological record will be discovered. This is where Cork began its story on its swamp in the River Lee, and I still would like to see that narrative be more present in the proposed heritage centre.
“The event centre, apartments, and offices are going to have an enormous physical footprint. We are used to seeing so much open space on the old brewery site. This perspective is going to turn on its head. The development will change the dynamics of South Main St and Barrack St. Traffic and pedestrian flows are going to be very large.”