Cork County Council has said it may cost substantially more than anticipated to turn a 400-year-old fort into a major tourist attraction, because of the “sheer scale and complexity of the work”.
A year ago, the local authority appointed consultants to draw up a masterplan for the redevelopment at Camden Fort Meagher, in Crosshaven. It is one of the finest remaining examples of a classical coastal artillery fort in the world.
Councillors waited for the report’s findings, but they haven’t been released by the council. On foot of an inquiry sent by the Irish Examiner to the council about the findings of the report, which cost €100,000 to compile, the council issued a statement.
“The framework for the development of Camden Fort Meagher (CFM) has demonstrated the sheer scale and complexity of the work to be undertaken to deliver a fully-restored tourism product to the harbour area.”
The council added that this complexity has led to further work to establish what opportunities for funding may be available to initiate phased aspects of the project.
The council added that when this was finalised, it would be in a better position to decide on any significant future work programmes, along with provisional timescales in which the redevelopment of CFM may be delivered.
The statement added the council “is committed to enhancing the tourism product within the harbour area and CFM is a priority in this regard”.
It’s understood part of the problem lies with the layout of the fort, which is on a rocky outcrop. Unlike Spike Island, the so-called Jewel in the Crown, which the council owns, 65% of CFM comprises a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers.
CFM is regarded as the poor relation compared to the amount of money being thrown into developing Spike Island and relies heavily on a group of volunteers to keep it open. Cllr Seamus McGrath said the fort had “enormous potential” with such a fascinating and rich history and it could become a significant tourist attraction with adequate investment.
“It’s imperative every funding avenue is explored,” he said.